The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said it is verifying a report that four of the six women discovered and rescued by French police from a refrigerated truck in France are Vietnamese citizens, and is ready for citizen protection measures.
The rescue was made in Lyon, a city in southeastern France, on Thursday and the six rescued women included four believed to be Vietnamese and two Iraqi, the ministry said Friday, citing a report from the Vietnamese Embassy in France.
After getting notified of the rescue, the embassy has immediately coordinated with local authorities to verify the information and ask for their support to carry out citizen protection measures.
Initial information showed that the four believed-to-be Vietnamese women were in stable health condition.
The embassy will continue to closely monitor the case and be ready to implement any necessary measures to protect the legitimate rights and interests of Vietnamese citizens, the ministry stated.
Previously, the group of six women mentioned above secretly boarded a truck with Irish license plates in France hoping to reach England or Ireland as they believed the truck was on its way to one of the two countries, according to local media.
However, after many hours on the truck, which carried bananas, they began to panic when they checked their position using GPS on their cellphones and realized that the car did not run in their expected direction, but it traveled toward Italy.
One of them sent a text message and a video clip to a BBC reporter asking for help and this reporter reported the case to French authorities, resulting in the rescue when the police found the car on a thruway.
The truck driver told French police that he did not know when the group of people got in the vehicle.
After hearing strange noises from the truck’s body, he thought there might be someone inside, so he decided to stop the vehicle and called the police, the driver reported.
When being rescued, all the women wore thick coats and the temperature inside the truck body was about six degrees Celsius, so they faced no health problems, according to French prosecutor Laetitia Francart.
Francart said the truck driver was not at fault and the six women also told police that the truck driver was not involved in their attempt to flee to the UK or Ireland.
French police initially detained these women for illegal staying in France, but set them free later, with four believed to be Vietnamese given 30 days to leave France, while the two Iraqi allowed to stay to apply for asylum, according to BBC.
The case is still under investigation by French authorities.
Every year thousands of migrants seek a better life in Britain by crossing the border from northern France, and they often hide in trucks or on small boats, which are not capable of crossing the Manche Channel.
Many migrants from countries such as Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq are determined to come to the UK because they can speak English or because they already have relatives there.
In 2019, 39 Vietnamese people paid large sums of money to human traffickers in a move to illegally enter the UK, but they later died of suffocation in a refrigerated container truck when the vehicle was brought from Belgium to the UK by a ferry.