39 Vietnamese Died in a U.K. Truck. 18,000 More Endure This Perilous Trip.

Thousands of people from Vietnam are smuggled to Europe every year on a route filled with violence and hardship. And that is just the beginning.

Comments: 25

  1. Why Britain can't be like the other European countries? "...and free of the onerous identity checks that make other European countries inhospitable."

  2. @SlipperyKYSlope It's not as if other European countries are the workers' paradise that this observation makes them out to be. The New York Times routinely carries articles chronicling the misery of immigrant workers in countries such as France and other EU states.

  3. @SlipperyKYSlope "Why Britain can't be like the other European countries? - and free of the onerous identity checks that make other European countries inhospitable." A relevant question. Europe - for a variety of cultural reasons - is a place where proving your identity is done on a regular basis. In some countries, foreigners are legally obliged to carry proper ID at all times and this requirement can be strictly enforced. In others, having an officially proven identity is an essential part of being a citizen; access to healthcare, state services even private travel and housing depends on that formal identification. The UK has been resistant to the ID concept. Perhaps it's to do with throwbacks to WW2 and the control of Europe by the Nazis. Certainly, a 2007 scheme from the Blair government to introduce a national ID card scheme was droppped in the face of public opposition. The downside of this 'freedom' has been an intensification of anti-migrant sentiment. In the absence of means to identify immigrants, it's been easy for the far-Right to magnify fears of an invasion of foreigners - particularly EU citizens. This was certainly one of the facilitators of Brexit. Belatedly, the UK Government has introduced ID rules. You can't rent any housing, even privately, without ID and nationality checks. There are plans to oblige employers to compile and report lists of foreign employees. Further measures are expected. Accusations of 'a culture of fear' have flown about.

  4. English speaking countries are always going to be the top destination. Great Britain specifically pioneered the global society for 400 years. They are better at it than places like Italy, Germany or Poland.

  5. "free of the onerous identity checks that make other European countries inhospitable." If Stephen Miller and Trump and the rest of his buddies were really serious about immigration, the USA would have those "onerous identity checks", too. But some big GOP donors would have to pay more to get the chickens slaughtered and their hotel rooms cleaned.

  6. I teach English to Vietnamese kids and I wonder if they know more about this issue than the English mass media does. The people leaving from that province aren't the poorest, according to them. They go in order to join their families in the marijuana growing business in Britain. It's a strict family/clan affair. And it makes sense : if you're making your living illegally then you don't employ British locals or non-family Vietnamese. Poor people just looking for a better life? No so, according to my students.

  7. @Christopher Haslett Your kids aren't experts. They give you hearsay.

  8. The world we share is the one we are stuck with, unless we choose to improve it. Fifty years ago, a tragedy like this was understandable. Today, it is becoming harder to comprehend. It seems we will have to choose between a deeper commitment and willful ignorance. We are in this era to focus on a deeper understanding of baseline safety technologies, rather than gated communities as shields against the dangers of risky wealth disparities. Our social and economic structures on a global scale will continue to rise. What we allow will determine our suitability for it. It is possible to create an uninhabitable global structure. We do it all the time on smaller scales.

  9. “In Britain, migrants see a country … free of the onerous identity checks that make other European countries inhospitable.” We need to discourage illegal immigration to the United States. Please tell us about these identity checks and what they entail. Would they be allowed under our Constitution? If so, let us discuss their advantages and disadvantages, and then decide if our country would benefit from enacting any of them or something similar.

  10. @ann Sink the economy.

  11. @ann back in the 1990s I was in France. I was sitting in a park waiting on a French friend whose job she had to visit some businesses in the area for some types of sales. This was in Paris. The police came up to me and asked for ID. I just so happen to have my American passport with me. One spoke to me in English. He looked through the passport but found no stamp. He asked me if I am in any sort of trouble? I told him no I am here waiting on a friend who has so work in the area and she is down the block. Immigration in France does not stamp the passport upon arrival. They scan it but no stamp to show when I arrived. So I can appreciate what the migrants are saying about other European countries and their onerous identity checks. I've been to England too several times but I never been stopped for an ID check. But unlike the French the British immigration loves to stamp passports. They stamped it each time I entered the country by air and when I entered by ferry at Dover coming from Calais, France back in 2001.

  12. @ann ID checks are one (controversial) issue. But what amazes me, living in suburban Britain, is that these nail bars are 'hiding in plain site'. I am guilty of visiting one myself, until a NYT article highlighted the exploitation of the (mainly Korean, in NY) workers. Even at the time, the stench of harsh chemicals and dangerously overloaded electrical sockets for the gel lamps shocked me. I now pay rather more for my manicures. And yet the nail bar is still there on the high street and apparently unvisited either by Health and Safety or the immigration authorities.

  13. It's truly heartbreaking whenever there are news reports of people dying after feeling forced to flee their own countries, whether they are from Vietnam or Syria or wherever. No human beings should have to take that kind of chance with their lives or the lives of their loved ones, whether they end up dying or not.

  14. The Vietnamese TV program that I just watched talk about the Billionaire's (Vietnamese billionaire -- about $43K USD) village where the villagers who died in the mentioned incident. The money that the people working in the U.K. in cannabis farms, sex trade, and nail shops are sent home so their families can build new houses in European/American styles (the styles are out of place in Vietnam actually). It's a competition between neighbors who have sons/daughters working overseas to build the bigger houses than their neighbors. That's why they are called Billionaire's Village. Yes, all of these are at the cost of their children's lives. As a Vietnamese-American who came to the U.S. 40 years ago, I feel sad reading about the incident and I am actually against this kind of illegal activities that make us the Vietnamese look bad. And I don't think what the villagers have done were doing the right thing. Yes, they are looking for a better life by going to Europe and spend their lives living illegally, but they were not fleeing from starvation and Communist oppression as my family was when we left Vietnam 40 years ago.

  15. @Observant Exactly. I thought the same thing. They are not leaving because of poverty or danger, but because they want a better life.

  16. When I lived in Vietnam ten years ago this was common place. I remember Vietnamese friends describing the perilous journeys their friends or family members had made to get into Europe on trucks. This isn't new, it's been going on for a very long time. It's only because of this truckload of poor people being discovered that it's in the limelight. Hopefully those reading about it in the US will begin to understand how desperate you have to be to even contemplate this, and perhaps show a little more compassion for those who make sometimes equally perilous journeys to make it through your borders.

  17. This story is has eerie parallels with Jason De León’s book, The Land of Open Graves, about the trek migrants take across the Sonoran Desert in the American Southwest. Each is the last and most dangerous leg of a long journey. One is a vast and rough but walkable desert, one is the English Channel, but the migrants face abuse, sexual assault, and possible death at alarming rates. It’s jarring to see how capital can so easily flow across borders and dramatically enhance the wealth of countries like ours, while that same global inequality drives millions to risk everything for our pocket change. Ample data shows that even the worst jobs in the US and Britain pay much better than most good jobs in countries of origin. The money is flowing freely but not the labor, like that dystopian movie In Time. As the inequality grows and the hurdles to securing work visas remain high, we should expect more people to be taking the same perilous journeys.

  18. It is indeed quite a horror for me thinking about 39 people losing the lives inside the truck..fellow human losing live one after another ...ohh my God...even in any horror films u can't see this...Mannnn...what can be said? ..humanity is dying. ..Governments need to take stricter punishments to the traffickers...i pray for the victims and their families ...God Bless all...

  19. What a sad story. Hope no more Vietnamese pay thousands of dollars to be beaten or sexually assaulted and then find this terrible death

  20. We should accept much much more Vietnamese people as immigrants and citizens (same from other countries). Those 39 human beings would have been as good American citizens as you and me if we had given them the chance. I feel horror, sadness, and shame at their undeserved fate. Shame on us.

  21. The Govt of the UK is party to this human carnage if the statement "free of the onerous identity checks that make other European countries inhospitable" is true. also, if true, there are probably some even now lined up to try it again. People need protection from the Donald Trumps, Kim Jong-un's, Xi Jinpings and Vlad Putins of the world for freedom, education and prosperity to be available to all. No one should die in these boxes. The deterrents must be put in place to stop it. No amount of wealth can keep a country secure with the amounts of immigrants that we see. If, as @John Haslett states below, they are being smuggled in for illegal work for drugs or other acts, then the heads must be cut off. We have to rethink immigration as temporary refuge for learning and then returning to bring new education & prosperity to home countries. All parties have to adopt & accept this knowledge or all will sink; the people as well as the sending and receiving countries. Vietnam needs these people safe and producing in Vietnam, the UK&US can afford to give a few the full wherewithal's to be ready to return. With Climate change, the world can't afford the catastrophes caused by ignorance. Case in point, all those people killed on the Indian or Pakistan train cooking food on illegal container that exploded killing so many.

  22. I wonder how much the Northern Irish truck driver knew of what he was doing ? He was a fool if he knew because I doubt they would pay his a trifling of what the illegal smuggling fees were. This whole immigration racket has become the ‘crime of the century’. The network is astounding. Celtels, trade agreements, payoffs and our collective blind eyes ( i.e. using their laborious services in restaurants, salon and yard work while not questioning the mafioso profiteers ) are the backbone of its feasibility and function.

  23. These traffickers are trading in human misery. Several of those involved in the deaths of Vietnamese migrants in the refrigerated truck found in the UK have now been caught and charged with "manslaughter, conspiracy to commit human trafficking and conspiracy to assist unlawful immigration." When the police tried, the could find them. What we need is for the police to try a bit more - to catch and convict traffickers on a reasonably regular basis even when there aren't dead bodies, even when there are "only" miserable lives resulting from their crimes. If there was a real risk of getting caught and imprisoned, the traffickers would be significantly deterred.

  24. The abject reality of the exploitation of the illegal migration is a shame on us all in Europe and the USA. Such a poor people have to sustain the payment of smuggling organizations, while enduring harsh and high risk traveling conditions only to accede to low paid jobs, which greatly contribute to engross the GDP of the host countries. And, shame of the shame, the host countries' authorities and political parties are mostly crying loudly against these illegal migrants, who are exploited for their traveling before being exploited fro their labor. Top irony is that the host countries spend billions to pretend to control vainly their borders. Indeed, with or without complicity, every border crossing point at the land, air and sea line, can be passed illegally, if the migrants have enough money and endurance. Does anyone know how many hours the border police and customs would need to seriously and correctly check a loaded truck or trailer at a crossing point? And there are thousands and thousands of them coming daily at the European and American border crossing points. And our economies cannot block their flows at the border. So, we have to pray that other migrants will have the chance to avoid the terrible martyrdom of those Vietnam citizens.

  25. There is a profound sense after reading this story that the gap between rich and poor is so much more than economic. When you are poor you are victimized socially, sexually, culturally, in more ways than I can find words to describe. I find it quite disturbing that the comfortable among us can move on each day with little regard or concern for the vast majority of the enduring and suffering poor. We do not hold our representatives to account to help rectify and relieve these situations. We ultimately are part of the problem, as divorced from it as we are.