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Over 300 flee from drug rehabilitation center in northern Vietnam city

Over 300 flee from drug rehabilitation center in northern Vietnam city

Monday, September 15, 2014, 12:52 GMT+7

Police in the northern city of Hai Phong are handling a case in which more than 300 people fled from a local drug rehabilitation center due to conflict between two groups at the facility. At about 4 pm on Sunday, a large number of former drug addicts managed to get escape the Hai Phong Social Labor and Education Center in Gia Minh Commune, Thuy Nguyen District, where they had voluntarily stayed, despite the efforts of the center’s officials and staffs. These escapers, however, had not caused any smashes or injuries to the center’s staffs. The group, many members of which were shirtless, then calmly walked towards the center of the city, local police said. Police officers were deployed in teams to keep watch over the escapees and prevent them from entering the city’s downtown area. Police did not detain anybody, but used loudspeakers to advise them to return to the center, and not gather in large numbers on the street. The incident didn’t cause any public disorder, except for traffic congestion that lasted for about two hours, police added. By 7 pm the same day, the groups had dispersed completely. Most of them returned home, and a small number of them went back to the center. A number of escapees said that they had left the center because there had been conflicts and fights there. “In addition, we had to work hard at the center every day, but our diet were very poor, so we finally decided to flee,” they said.Conflict between two groups The Hai Phong City People’s Committee held a press conference on Sunday evening regarding the incident. Pham Huu Thu, Chief of the Secretariat of the committee, said the center had a total of 915 addicts who were being detoxified under Decree 94/2009 by the Government. As a rule, after two years at the center, those who fail to comply with internal regulations and quit using drugs have to stay for an additional 12 to 24 months for further detoxification and education, Thu said, adding that the center had 250 on their second round of treatment. This means the drugs abusers at the center are divided into two groups, “positive” and “negative,” and conflicts have broken out between the two, said Nguyen Quang Toan, the director of the center.   Different diets between the two groups also contributed to the conflicts between them, Toan said. According to regulations, the “negative” group receives a diet worth VND360,000 (US$17) per month per person, while the standard for the “positive” group is VND90,000 per month higher, Toan said. Recently, members of the negative group (those who performed poorly and had disciplinary problems) picked fights with and beat members of the other group. This uneasy situation finally drove hundreds of ex-drug addicts to flee the center, Thu explained. The center’s management is taking measures to call those who went home to return to the center.

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