Vietnamese Ambassador to the UK Trần Ngọc Anh talks with Vietnamese citizens at Heathrow Airport prior to their flight home on July 12. — VNA/VNS Photo
Trịnh Minh Duyên
HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam has spared no efforts to protect its citizens in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak in many countries and territories to ensure the best health conditions for Vietnamese people.
From the early stages of the pandemic, citizen protection was an important task and a highlight in Việt Nam's pandemic prevention and control efforts to ensure the rights and interests of Vietnamese people abroad and repatriate those in disadvantaged conditions.
On January 25, three days after the first case of coronavirus infection was discovered in Việt Nam, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc chaired a Government meeting to direct relevant ministries, agencies and organisations to implement citizen protection tasks in countries and territories affected by the pandemic.
In the following days, the PM and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Prevention and Control asked ministries to count the number of Vietnamese citizens in pandemic-hit areas and be ready to carry out citizen protection measures. They were also told to encourage and warn Vietnamese citizens to not return to Việt Nam if not necessary and to strictly abide by pandemic prevention and control regulations in their host countries.
Diplomatic agencies abroad were instructed to prepare plans to bring Vietnamese citizens stranded at international airports due to travel restrictions home and propose plans to repatriate Vietnamese citizens with priority given to the elderly, people with health problems and children under 18 years old.
At online exchanges with leaders of foreign countries, Prime Minister Phúc and Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh proposed the countries work together in pandemic prevention and control as well as support Vietnamese citizens in their countries.
Following direction from the PM, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked with relevant domestic ministries and agencies and Vietnamese diplomatic agencies abroad, domestic airlines and authorised agencies of host countries to carry out citizen protection tasks.
The aviation sector has so far conducted more than 60 flights repatriating some 15,000 Vietnamese citizens in 48 countries and territories, including China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Canada.
The successful implementation of citizen protection has also been attributed to information dissemination and communication. The rapid, accurate and full information provided to citizens in a timely manner has helped them understand the Party, State and Government policies in citizen protection tasks and co-ordinate with authorised agencies.
The foreign ministry has also provided information for foreign press agencies to timely update Việt Nam’s pandemic prevention and control efforts.
The citizen protection tasks have been carried out successfully also thanks to the great efforts of diplomatic officials, particularly those working abroad.
Vietnamese ambassadors and those in charge of Vietnamese consulates in foreign countries have visited and encouraged Vietnamese citizens to strictly abide by disease prevention and control regulations. They have been on duty around the clock to respond to any emerging problem and made plans to repatriate citizens safely.
Right after the COVID-19 started to develop complicatedly in Wuhan, Hubei Province, the Vietnamese Embassy in China asked the Government plan to move Vietnamese citizens out of Wuhan. The embassy staff worked with authorised agencies of China to deal with related procedures and build plans to repatriate Vietnamese citizens in line with international norms and Vietnamese and Chinese regulations. On February 10, a Vietnam Airlines flight brought 30 Vietnamese citizens home safely from China.
“I could only sleep well when my Vietnamese citizens landed home safely,” Vietnamese Ambassador to India Phạm Sanh Châu said when the plan to repatriate Vietnamese citizens in New Delhi met many difficulties.
Two months after the repatriation plan was made, the embassy still failed to bring Vietnamese citizens from other areas in India to New Delhi to fly back to Việt Nam. However, the embassy did not give up. With great efforts of the ambassador and diplomatic officials in India, the flight was conducted successfully. A total of 340 Vietnamese citizens stranded in India returned home to Việt Nam on May 20 onboard a specially arranged flight.
With practical policies and actions, citizen protection tasks have aided Vietnamese citizens abroad and lessen their worries amid a complex pandemic. — VNS