Vietnam to look into report that 3,000 Vietnamese children are enslaved in Britain

Around 3,000 Vietnamese children are reportedly being used as forced laborers in the UK

This file photo shows four girls who were forced to work 16 hours per day at a private sewing factory in Tan Binh District, Ho Chi Minh City in 2010.

Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, has ordered a probe to clarify a report that UK-based Vietnamese criminal gangs have illegally sent about 3,000 Vietnamese children to the European country to live a life of modern slavery.

Deputy PM Phuc made the order after The Guardian reported on May 23 in an article that these trafficked children are being used as forced workers.

Phuc asked the Ministry of Public Security to coordinate with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids, and Social Affairs, and other relevant agencies to clarify the striking news and submit a report including proposals to the prime minister in June.

“By our calculations there are around 3,000 Vietnamese children in the UK who are being used for profit by criminal gangs,” The Guardian quoted Philip Ishola, the former head of the UK’s Counter Human Trafficking Bureau, as saying.

Children account for nearly 25 percent of the estimated 13,000 people trafficked into the UK every year, and Vietnamese children are the largest group of children trafficked to the country, The Guardian said.

According to an estimate by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, around 30 Vietnamese children arrive illegally in the UK every month through smuggling routes.

As each child is charged up to £25,000 for their passage to the UK, they collectively owe their traffickers almost £75 million.

In order to pay such debts, these children work as forced workers in cannabis factories, nail salons, garment factories, brothels, and private homes run by the criminal gangs.

“Children are an increasingly valuable asset to criminal gangs because they are easy to get hold of, easily intimidated and exploited, and easy to keep isolated and unaware of what is really happening around them, which makes it far less likely for them to be able to disclose anything of use to the police,” Ishola was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

Human right activists are now warning British authorities about UK-based Vietnamese gangs recruiting and exploiting children for use in other criminal enterprises such as gun-smuggling, crystal meth production and prostitution rings, according to the newspaper.

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