Vietnam receives first 16 bodies found in British truck



After an agonising wait, the bodies of some of the 39 migrants found dead in a lorry in England last month were repatriated to Vietnam on Wednesday.

Vietnam’s foreign ministry said that 16 bodies were repatriated on Wednesday morning.

The rest will reportedly be brought back imminently, although the timeline remains unclear.

“My daughter’s body is on the way back home from (Hanoi) airport.

“Her body will arrive home at about 1 or 2 pm today (0600-0700 GMT).

“We will organise the funeral today and then a burial for her at 3 pm on Thursday,” Pham Van Thin, the father of 26-year-old victim Pham Thi Tra My, said.

Pham added that local authorities would not allow the family to go to the airport to escort the coffin back.

“They may be afraid our weeping will interrupt their work,’’ she said.

My’s text message to her mother saying “I’m sorry mum … I’m dying because I can’t breathe” first alerted the world of the possibility that Vietnamese nationals could be among the dead after British police initially said that all 39 victims were Chinese.

Shortly after the aircraft landed, representatives of victims’ families from Nghe An, Ha Tinh, and Quang Binh provinces received the bodies of 16 victims and began the process of transporting them to the families, the statement said.

“Our district arranged and sent eight ambulances to (Hanoi) airport on Tuesday evening in order to carry eight bodies back home and hand them over to their families,” said Bui Huy Cuong, Deputy Chairman of Can Loc District in Ha Tinh province, where ten of the victims were from.

The bodies of the Vietnamese migrants were first discovered in the back of a refrigerated lorry on Oct. 23 in Essex, in south-east England.

The long delay and confusion over costs of repatriation have caused extra grief for families desperate to bring their loved ones home.

The families will have to pay for the repatriations themselves, with the Vietnamese government offering to pay upfront and giving relatives 30 days to pay the money back interest-free, the Vietnamese state announced.

The relatives were offered two choices: either the family has to pay almost 1,800 dollars to receive their loved ones cremated as ashes or more than 2,800 dollars for the body to be sent to Hanoi airport.

The news led to philanthropic responses from both concerned individuals and companies.

A page on the crowdfunding site GoFundMe has raised more than 27,000 dollars, while Vingroup, a Vietnamese conglomerate, has pledged to donate 800 dollars to each of the victims’ families in Nghe An and Ha Tinh.

Do Thi Kim Lien, a Vietnamese businesswoman has also been donating funds to the families to allow them to repatriate the bodies of their loved ones.

Hundreds of Vietnamese are trafficked to Britain each year, according to the charity Ecpat.

(Edited & Vetted By: Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)


Vietnam aims to resume commercial flights to Korea, Japan this month



Vietnam is aiming to resume commercial international flights to Korea and Japan by the middle of September, state media reported on Tuesday.

Dinh Thang, the Head of Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority, said an agreement had been reached with Japan and Korea to recommence passenger flights from Sept. 15.

Initial plans included four two-way flights per week, according to local media reports.

Vietnam has one of the world’s strictest measures in place for new arrivals, with all visitors required to quarantine for two weeks upon entry to the country.

The period of quarantine in government facilities was previously free, but the Vietnamese government has now said that from Sept.1, visitors will be required to pay for their stay during isolation.

Vietnam previously announced it would resume international flights to China, Cambodia, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and Laos in July.

But a second wave of infections that began in the coastal city of Da Nang in July put a stop to those plans.

As of Tuesday, Vietnam has reported 1,044 coronavirus cases and 34 deaths related to the virus.

No new community transmissions of the virus have been reported in the last two days.

Edited By: Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
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Buhari lists 9 priority areas to improve livelihood of Nigerians



President Muhammadu Buhari has assured Nigerians and the international community that his administration will use the remaining years in office to improve access to quality education, health care and enhance productivity, among nine priority areas.

The president gave the assurance when he received Letters of Credence from Ambassadors/High Commissioners of eight countries at the State House, Abuja, on Tuesday.

He said efforts were being made to sustain Nigeria’s position as profitable investment destination with unequalled incentives in all sectors, especially large market and flexible tax system which investors from various countries could take advantage of.

The Ambassadors/High Commissioners who presented their Letters of Credence are: Hocine Latil of Algeria; Luong Quoc Thinh of Vietnam and Dr Benson Alfred Bana of Tanzania.

Others included Traore Kalilou of Cote d’Ivoire; Abakar Saleh Chahaimi of Chad; Jamal Mohammed Barrow of Somalia; Brahim Salem El Mami Buseif of Sahrawi Arab Republic and Mohammed Alibak of Iran.

The president told the diplomats about Nigeria’s priority and the need to streamline on people-focused policies.

He said: “In our efforts to achieve a realistic domestic and foreign policy, as well as national development, we have identified the following nine priority areas to guide our policy directions over the next few years.

“Build a thriving and sustainable economy; Enhance social inclusion and reduce poverty; Enlarge agricultural output for food security and export; Attain energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products and expand transport and other infrastructural development.

“Expand business growth, entrepreneurship and industrialization; Expand access to quality education, affordable healthcare and productivity of Nigerians; Build a system to fight corruption, improve governance and create social cohesion; and improve security for all.’’

While describing Nigerians as the “nation’s most prized assets’’, Buhari said the nine priority mandates were already reflected in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, a medium-term initiative pioneered by the government to restore economic growth and development while leveraging the resourcefulness and resilience of the citizens.

The president urged the diplomats to use the opportunity of working in the country to improve relations with their governments and people.

“I have no doubt that you might have prior and in-depth knowledge of Nigeria’s huge potential which you will hopefully see for yourselves.

“I therefore, urge you to go around the country, see things for yourselves and report to your home governments. This is important as you all are representatives of both your sending and host states,’’ he said.

According to the Nigerian leader, Nigeria will remain steadfast in pursuing deeper and valuable relations among nations, without discrimination.

“Nigeria strongly supports joint action to ensure a democratic and fair world order based on strict respect for the norms of international law, the United Nations Charter, recognition of the unquestionable value of cultural diversity, national sovereignty, and the right of all countries to decide their future freely, without external pressure.

“Nigeria does not divide its partners into big and small; we value and respect every country, and with every country we are ready to pursue dialogue, as well as build cooperation on the basis of equality and constructive mutual respect.

“These include our cooperation in strengthening regional, continental and global peace and security, resolving complex issues, settling conflicts, as well as addressing dangerous threats to mankind, among which include terrorism, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, human trafficking, cybercrimes, poverty, communicable diseases and epidemics,’’ he added.

Speaking on behalf of the Ambassadors/High Commissioners, the Ambassador of Algeria to Nigeria said each of the diplomats brings greetings and agenda from their home governments, but the bottom line remains to enhance cooperation and seek advancement in mutual areas of interest.

He said: “On behalf of my colleagues, we thank you for receiving us.

“We know that your schedule is tight. As the giant of Africa, you are always focused on resolving conflicts in the continent, while taking care of your domestic issues as well.’’

The Algerian ambassador said the African ambassadors would leverage the opportunity to further enhance implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and learn from each other.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
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Philippines protests China’s illegal confiscation of fishing devices



The Philippines on Friday filed a diplomatic protest against China for allegedly confiscating fish aggregating devices installed by Filipino fishermen in a shoal in the disputed South China Sea, the Foreign Affairs Department said.

According to the department, the Chinese coast guard seized the devices, locally called payaos, from Scarborough Shoal in May.

“The Philippines also resolutely objected to China’s continuing illicit issuance of radio challenges Philippine aircraft conducting legitimate regular maritime patrols in the West Philippine Sea, referring to the South China Sea by its Philippine name,” it said.

However, no other details were made available about the incidents.

Scarborough Shoal, also known to the Chinese as Huangyan Dao or Democracy Reef, is located 230 kilometres from the Philippines’ North-Western coast.

The shoal was the site of a stand-off between Philippine and Chinese Government ships in April 2012.

China later took control of the area, often chasing away Filipino fishermen.

The incident prompted Manila in January 2013 to file an arbitration case against China, questioning Beijing’s sweeping claims to the disputed sea, a key shipping lane believed to be rich in mineral and marine resources.

In July 2016, the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled Beijing has no legal or historic basis to its claim over the South China Sea, which is also claimed in part by Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei.


Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
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Vietnam registers to buy Russian COVID-19 vaccine



Vietnam’s Ministry of Health has registered to purchase Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine, a broadcast on state-run Vietnam Television (VTV) said on Friday.

“In the meantime, Vietnam will still continue developing the country’s own COVID-19 vaccine,” the announcement said, citing the Health Ministry.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that the country had approved a COVID-19 vaccine named “Sputnik V.’’

Russian officials have dismissed concern expressed by scientists around the world over the lack of final-stage testing of the vaccine.

“It remains unclear whether Vietnam is merely registering to buy a small number of doses of the vaccine for now or if they will make a larger order for widespread use,’’ it stressed.

According to state media reports, Vietnam is aiming to have its own COVID-19 vaccine ready for human trials at the end of 2020 and ready for general use by October 2021.

The South-East Asian nation has thus far been relatively successful in its response to the coronavirus pandemic and received repeated praise from the World Health Organisation.

Yet after a fresh outbreak in the coastal city of Da Nang in late July after months of no community transmissions of the virus, the number of new infections has been rising rapidly and the country has seen its first deaths linked to COVID-19.

As of Friday, Vietnam has officially recorded 911 infections and 21 deaths.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu (NAN)
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