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This police unit specializes in helping foreigners in Ho Chi Minh City

Tuesday, July 12, 2016, 12:30 GMT+7

Police officers part of a unit specializing in offering assistance to foreigners have been creating a friendly, dedicated image of Ho Chi Minh City in the eyes of international friends.

Do Van Canh, vice-captain of Unit 4, whose main mission relates to the management of foreign residents and immigration inspection, under the municipal Department of Police, has recalled stories of he and his teammates fulfilling their duties.

Members of the unit have offered their help to many foreigners who have fallen into helpless situations in the southern city.

“Many people have bought us cookies and fruits as a token of their gratitude. Such small gifts make our day,” Canh said.

“What’s more important is that the foreign friends will go back to their hometowns remembering Ho Chi Minh as a friendly and devoted city,” the officer added.

Repatriation assistance

Despite it being the weekend, Canh and his fellow officers arrive at their office at 8:00 in the morning to answer any potential call requiring their expertise, including a competency in foreign languages.

“Other units usually contact us to help them solve problems involving foreigners in the city, from revealing their scams to stopping them from urinating on the streets,” Canh said, ending with a big laugh.

The team’s most recent accomplishment was to help two Thai nationals, who were without personal documents, return to their country in February.

The case was rather difficult to deal with as the foreigners did not know who they were, where they were from or how they came to Vietnam.

After looking up their files, the officers knew that the two had come to Vietnam on foot and later caught a bus to Ho Chi Minh City to earn a living, Canh recalled, adding that they ended up living as homeless people after failing to get a job.

They could not ask for help due to their limited English skill and had no relatives in the southern hub.

After drifting from one place to another, their story was “accidentally” reported to Unit 4, according to Canh.

The team then contacted the municipal Department of External Relations for language assistance from Thai authorities to identify the two people as well as to help them with the necessary paperwork to complete their repatriation.

“However, not all foreigners who get lost in the city are found by the team,” the officer said as he lowered his voice.

Canh mentioned the case of Edwin, a Filipino man who had been missing in Ho Chi Minh City for four years, despite the efforts of team members.

However, his family repeatedly approached the unit to remind them of their application every year on April 20, the day he went missing, according to the vice-captain.

Stopping crimes

Aside from assisting foreigners in need, members of Unit 4 do not go easy on those who come to the southern metropolis to conduct illegal activity.

According to Colonel Nguyen Van Anh, head of the municipal Immigration Office under the Department of Police, despite only being established in 2011, Unit 4 has quickly grown into a professional team, helping resolve problems involving foreigners in the city.

The team has broken up seven online sports betting rings run by people from other nations, mainly from South Korea, in the first six months of this year, Col. Anh said.

The officers have also dealt with many other cases related to unlawful immigration, the establishment of ‘ghost companies,’ illegal religious practices, and more.

Suspects have been taking advantage of loopholes in local law to conduct their illegal operations, according to vice-captain Canh.

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