Vietnam deploys troops to enforce COVID lockdown in largest city

HANOI (Reuters) -Vietnam deployed soldiers on Monday to help enforce a strict COVID lockdown in Ho Chi Minh City, its biggest urban area and current epicenter of its worst coronavirus outbreak to date.

Vietnam implemented movement restrictions in Ho Chi Minh City in early July, but announced its harshest curbs last week as infections have continued to surge. Authorities have said enforcement of recent curbs has not been sufficiently strict.

After containing COVID-19 for much of last year, Vietnam has recorded 358,456 infections and at least 8,666 fatalities. Ho Chi Minh City has recorded over 180,000 infections – half the country’s total – and 7,010 deaths, making up about 80% of the nation’s fatalities, according to the health ministry.

Most of those cases have been recorded in Ho Chi Minh City and its surrounding industrial provinces, where the Delta variant of the virus has sent numbers soaring since late April.

The government said on Friday a tighter lockdown would begin on Monday, prohibiting people from leaving their homes, even for food, and said the military would step in to help.

The announcement, later amended so that people in some areas could still shop for food, was subsequently reverted to a total ban, triggering confusion and panic-buying at supermarkets in the city over the weekend.

Witnesses said soldiers were delivering food to residents of the city on Monday and images broadcast by state media showed armed soldiers manning checkpoints and checking documents.

Vietnam has over recent weeks sent 14,600 additional doctors and nurses to the city and its neighboring provinces to support its overwhelmed medical system, the ministry said.

Patients with mild or no symptoms have been told to self isolate at home.

The government said on Friday it would send 130,000 tonnes of rice from state stockpiles to Ho Chi Minh City and 23 other cities and provinces. People in the city’s Phu Nhuan and Go Vap districts told Reuters they had received packages of rice, meat, fish and vegetables from the military.

Vietnam received two shipments of 501,600 AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses from Poland and 200,000 Sinopharm doses donation from China on Monday, the government said.

In total, the country has secured over 23 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines but just 1.8% of its 98 million people have been fully vaccinated – one of the lowest rates in the region.

(Writing by James Pearson; Editing by Ed Davies, Ana Nicolaci da Costa and Bernadette Baum)

Pentagon chief to nudge ties with Vietnam as human rights concerns linger

By Idrees Ali

HANOI (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will on Thursday look to nudge forward security ties with Vietnam that have been slowly deepening as both countries watch China’s activities in the South China Sea with growing alarm.

Despite growing military relations, more than four decades after the Vietnam War ended in 1975, President Joe Biden’s administration has said there are limits to the relationship until Hanoi makes progress on human rights.

Vietnam has emerged as the most vocal opponent of China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea and has received U.S. military hardware, including coastguard cutters.

“(Vietnam) wants to know that the U.S. is going to remain engaged militarily, it’s going to continue its presence in the South China Sea,” said Greg Poling, with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Lieutenant General Vu Chien Thang, director of the Defense Ministry’s Foreign Relations Department, said on Tuesday the two sides would discuss the coronavirus and measures to “enhance maritime law enforcement capability.”

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they would also sign a “memorandum of understanding” for Harvard and Texas Tech University to create a database that would help Vietnamese search for those missing from the war.

On Sunday, the United States shipped 3 million doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Vietnam, raising the amount given by the United States, via the global COVAX vaccine scheme, to 5 million doses.

Austin will meet his counterpart along with Vietnam’s president and prime minister.

Poling said there was a limit to how fast and far the Vietnamese were comfortable with deepening ties.

Experts say there are lingering concerns in Vietnam about Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, withdrawing from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade pact in 2017.

“That really left a lot of countries standing at the altar for lack of a better way to put it, and especially Vietnam,” Derek Grossman, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, said.

There are also limits to how far the United States is willing to deepen relations.

As important as Vietnam is in countering China, the United States has said it needs to improve its human rights record.

Vietnam has undergone sweeping economic reforms and social change in recent decades, but the ruling Communist Party retains a tight grip over media and tolerates little dissent.

In Singapore on Tuesday, Austin said the United States would always lead with its values.

“We will discuss those values with our friends and allies everywhere we go and we don’t make any bones about that,” Austin said.

This month, Marc Knapper, Biden’s nominee to be the next U.S. ambassador to Vietnam vowed to boost security ties but said they could only reach their full potential if Hanoi made significant progress on human rights.

(Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Vietnam to mix doses of Pfizer, AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines

HANOI(Reuters) – Vietnam will offer the coronavirus vaccine jointly developed by Pfizer and BioNTech as a second dose option for people first inoculated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, the government said on Tuesday.

Vietnam’s mass inoculation campaign is in its early stages, with fewer than 300,000 people fully vaccinated so far. It has so far used AstraZeneca’s viral vector vaccine and last week took delivery of 97,000 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA shot.

“Pfizer vaccines will be prioritized for people who were given first shot of AstraZeneca 8-12 weeks before,” the government said in a statement.

Several countries, including Canada, Spain and South Korea, have already approved such dose-mixing mainly due to concerns about rare and potentially fatal blood clots linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

A Spanish study found the Pfizer-AstraZeneca combination was highly safe and effective, according to preliminary results.

But the World Health Organization’s chief scientist advised on Monday against mixing and matching COVID-19 vaccines, calling it a “dangerous trend” since there was little data available about the health impact.

The Vietnamese government in a separate statement said its health ministry was in talks with India to secure 15 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine Covaxin.

The country has so far received around 8 million doses of vaccines from multiple sources, including international COVAX scheme, donations and its own purchases.

Vietnam has been trying to expedite its vaccination campaign as the pace of infections grow, having hit daily records eight times this month. It reported 2,031 new infections on Tuesday, most of those in the epicenter Ho Chi Minh City.

Prior to May 2021, it had recorded less than 3,000 coronavirus cases in total. Its caseload is now 34,500, with 130 deaths.

Vietnam said on Tuesday it would soon receive 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine donated by Australia and an additional batch of one million doses of the vaccine from Japan this week.

(Editing by Ed Davies and Martin Petty)

China says U.S. military in South China Sea not good for peace

By Cate Cadell

BEIJING (Reuters) – The United States often sends ships and aircraft into the South China Sea to “flex its muscles” and this is not good for peace, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday, after a U.S. aircraft carrier group sailed into the disputed waterway.

The strategic South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in trade flows each year, has long been a focus of contention between Beijing and Washington, with China particularly angered by U.S. military activity there.

The U.S. carrier group led by the USS Theodore Roosevelt and accompanied by three warships, entered the waterway on Saturday to promote “freedom of the seas,” the U.S. military said, just days after Joe Biden became U.S. president..

“The United States frequently sends aircraft and vessels into the South China Sea to flex its muscles,” the foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian, told reporters, responding to the U.S. mission.

“This is not conducive to peace and stability in the region.”

China has repeatedly complained about U.S. Navy ships getting close to islands it occupies in the South China Sea, where Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei and Taiwan all have competing claims.

The carrier group entered the South China Sea at the same time as Chinese-claimed Taiwan reported incursions by Chinese air force jets into the southwestern part of its air defense identification zone, prompting concern from Washington.

China has not commented on what its air force was doing, and Zhao referred questions to the defense ministry.

He reiterated China’s position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and that the United States should abide by the “one China” principle.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen visited a radar base in the north of the island on Monday, and praised its ability to track Chinese forces, her office said.

“From last year until now, our radar station has detected nearly 2,000 communist aircraft and more than 400 communist ships, allowing us to quickly monitor and drive them away, and fully guard the sea and airspace,” she told officers.

Taiwan’s defense ministry added that just a single Chinese aircraft flew into its defense zone on Monday, an anti-submarine Y-8 aircraft.

Biden’s new administration says the U.S. commitment to Taiwan is “rock-solid”.

The United States, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan but is the democratic island’s most important international backer and main arms supplier, to China’s anger.

(Reporting by Cate Cadell; Writing and additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

‘We’ve got your back’ – Trump advisor vows U.S. support in South China Sea

MANILA (Reuters) – U.S. national security adviser Robert O’Brien on Monday assured the Philippines and Vietnam, countries both locked in maritime rows with China, that Washington has their backs and would fight to keep the Indo-Pacific region free and open.

“Our message is we’re going to be here, we’ve got your back, and we’re not leaving,” said O’Brien, on a visit to the Philippines after concluding a trip to Vietnam on Sunday.

“I think when we send that message – that peace-through-strength message – is the way to deter China. It is a way to ensure the peace,” O’Brien said.

Vietnam and the Philippines have been the most vocal regional opponents to what they see as Chinese overreach in the South China Sea and its disregard for boundaries outlined in international maritime law.

China claims 90% of the potentially energy-rich South China Sea, but Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam each claim parts of it.

The United States has long opposed China’s expansive claims, sending warships regularly through the strategic waterway to demonstrate freedom of navigation there.

China maintains it is a force for peace in the region and sees the U.S. presence as provocative and interference by an outsider.

O’Brien, who led the turnover in Manila of $18 million worth of precision-guided munitions, said the United States stood with the Philippines in protecting its offshore resource entitlements.

“Those resources belong to the children and grandchildren of the people here,” he said.

“They don’t belong to some other country just because they may be bigger than the Philippines,” he said, adding: “That’s just wrong.”

His visit came more than a week after the Philippines suspended its scrapping of a Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States for a second time, as the treaty allies work on a long-term mutual defense arrangement.

Last year, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assured the Philippines it would come to its defense if attacked in the South China Sea.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Martin Petty)

Proportion of youth with COVID-19 triples in five months: WHO

By Ankur Banerjee and Stephanie Nebehay

(Reuters) – Young people who are hitting nightclubs and beaches are leading a rise in fresh coronavirus cases across the world, with the proportion of those aged 15 to 24 who are infected rising three-fold in about five months, the World Health Organization said.

An analysis by the WHO of 6 million infections between Feb. 24 and July 12 found that the share of people aged 15-24 years rose to 15% from 4.5%.

Apart from the United States which leads a global tally with 4.8 million total cases, European countries including Spain, Germany and France, and Asian countries such as Japan, have said that many of the newly infected are young people.

“Younger people tend to be less vigilant about masking and social distancing,” Neysa Ernst, nurse manager at Johns Hopkins Hospital’s biocontainment unit in Baltimore, Maryland told Reuters in an email.

“Travel increases your chances of getting and spreading COVID-19,” she said, adding young people are more likely to go to work in the community, to a beach or the pub, or to buy groceries.

The surge in new cases, a so-called second wave of infections, has prompted some countries to impose new curbs on travel even as companies race to find a vaccine for the fast-spreading virus that has claimed more than 680,000 lives and upended economies.

Even countries such as Vietnam, widely praised for its mitigation efforts since the coronavirus appeared in late January, are battling new clusters of infection.

Among those aged 5-14 years, about 4.6% were infected, up from 0.8%, between Feb. 24 and July 12, the WHO said, at a time when testing has risen and public health experts are concerned that reopening of schools may lead to a surge in cases.

Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. expert on infectious diseases, urged young people last month to continue to socially distance, wear masks and avoid crowds, and cautioned that asymptomatic people could spread the virus, too.

Indeed, health experts in several countries have urged similar measures as they report that infected youth show few symptoms.

“We’ve said this before and we’ll say it again: young people are not invincible,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a news briefing in Geneva last week.

“Young people can be infected; young people can die; and young people can transmit the virus to others.”

Last month, Tokyo officials said they would conduct coronavirus testing in the city’s nightlife districts, and instructed nightclubs to provide customers with enough space with good ventilation and to ask them to avoid speaking loudly.

In France last month, authorities shut down a bar where people breached hygiene rules and caused an outbreak.

(Reporting by Ankur Banerjee and Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru and Stephanie Ulmer-Nebehay in Geneva; Editing by Sayantani Ghosh and Bernadette Baum)

Vietnam says every city, province now at risk of coronavirus

By Phuong Nguyen and Khanh Vu

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam, virus-free for months, is bracing for another wave of COVID-19 infections after state media reported new cases in Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and the Central Highlands linked to a recent outbreak in the central city of Danang.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said the current wave of infections was different to a second wave Vietnam fought in March, and every province and city in the country was at risk, state broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) reported.

Thanks to a centralised quarantine programme and an aggressive contact-tracing system, Vietnam had managed to keep its coronavirus tally to just 450 cases, despite sharing a border with China.

With more than 95 million people, Vietnam is the most populous country in the world to have recorded no deaths from the virus, and until now no locally transmitted infections had been reported for months.

That record is now under threat following an outbreak last weekend in Danang, where tens of thousands of domestic tourists were vacationing thanks to discounted travel deals.

The government on Tuesday suspended all flights to and from Danang for 15 days. At least 30 infections have been detected in or around the city.

About 18,000 tourists who had been in Danang have returned to the southern business hub of Ho Chi Minh City, authorities said on Tuesday. Another 21,000 returned to Hanoi, the city’s governing body said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Phuc said tourist hubs throughout the country had to step up vigilance and that Danang must go under “strict lockdown”, VTV said.

In Hanoi, a worker at a pizza restaurant who had recently returned from Danang had tested positive for the coronavirus and authorities had closed the business for disinfection, state media reported.

The health ministry confirmed that case late on Wednesday, as well as an additional two cases in Ho Chi Minh City and another in the Central Highlands.

IMMIGRATION CRACKDOWN

The source of the infection in Danang, origin of the current wave, remains unclear.

One of the cases, an American citizen in Ho Chi Minh City, first developed symptoms in Danang as early as June 26, the health ministry said.

Vietnamese scientists have said the strain of the coronavirus found there was more infectious than the earlier strain, and this latest strain had also been previously detected in Bangladesh, Britain and Ireland.

The government has not officially linked the new cases to illegal immigration, but Phuc has ordered police to strengthen a crackdown on illegal entries.

State media on Sunday said police in Danang had arrested a 42-year-old Chinese man suspected of heading a criminal group smuggling people across the border from China.

Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh paid a rare visit to Vietnam’s mountainous northern border with China on Wednesday where he asked authorities to “enhance border management”, a government statement said, without elaborating.

In a rare rescue flight, Vietnam repatriated 140 construction workers infected with COVID-19 from Equatorial Guinea on Wednesday. The workers will be treated at a hospital outside Hanoi, a medical official told Reuters.

The health ministry has yet to add the cases from Africa to its coronavirus tally.

(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen and Khanh Vu; Writing by James Pearson; Editing by Martin Petty, Simon Cameron-Moore, Gareth Jones and Nick Macfie)

New travel curbs imposed as world tackles second COVID-19 wave

By Stephen Coates and Peter Graff

SYDNEY/LONDON (Reuters) – Nations in Asia imposed new restrictions on Monday and an abrupt British quarantine on travelers from Spain threw Europe’s summer reopening into disarray, as the world confronted the prospect of a second wave of COVID-19 infections.

In the United States, where infection rates have been climbing since mid-June, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien became the most senior White House official to test positive.

Surges were reported in a number of countries previously singled out as places where the virus was under control.

Australia recorded a record daily rise. Vietnam locked down the city of Danang, forcing tens of thousands of visitors to evacuate. Mainland China confirmed the most new locally transmitted cases since early March. Papua New Guinea shut its borders.

Hong Kong banned gatherings of more than two people, closed down restaurant dining and introduced mandatory face masks in public places, including outdoors.

Just weeks after European countries trumpeted the reopening of tourism, a surge in infections in Spain prompted Britain to order all travelers from there to quarantine for two weeks, torpedoing the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of people.

The World Health Organization said travel restrictions could not be the answer for the long term, and countries had to do more to halt the spread inside their borders by adopting proven strategies such as social distancing and the wearing of masks.

“It is going to be almost impossible for individual countries to keep their borders shut for the foreseeable future. Economies have to open up, people have to work, trade has to resume,” WHO emergencies program director Mike Ryan said.

“What is clear is pressure on the virus pushes the numbers down. Release that pressure and cases creep back up.”

NOT LIKE BEFORE

Officials in some of the European and Asian countries where the virus is again spreading say new outbreaks will not be as bad as the original waves that hit earlier this year, and can be contained with local measures rather than nationwide shutdowns.

But countries that have suffered extreme economic hardship from months of lockdowns are also determined not to let the virus get out of control again, even if that means reversing the path to reopening.

Europe has yet to lift bans on travelers from many countries, including the United States where the White House said national security adviser O’Brien presented no risk of infection for Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.

Britain’s announcement of the return of quarantine for Spain was likely to torpedo the revival of airlines and tourism businesses across the continent, which had thought they had survived their biggest crisis in living memory.

Britain accounts for more than 20% of foreign visitors to Spain, where tourism represents 12% of the economy.

Europe’s biggest airline, Ryanair, cut its annual passenger target by a quarter on Monday and warned a second wave of COVID-19 infections could lower that further.

A British junior health minister said more European countries could end up on the “red list” if infections surge.

“If we see the rates going up, we would have to take action because we cannot take the risk of coronavirus being spread again across the UK,” Helen Whately told Sky News when asked if Germany or France might be next after Spain.

In China, which managed to squelch local transmission through firm lockdowns after the virus first emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year, a new surge has been driven by infections in the far western region of Xinjiang.

In the northeast, Liaoning province reported a fifth straight day of new infections and Jilin province reported two new cases, its first since late May.

Australian authorities who have imposed a six-week lockdown in parts of the southeastern state of Victoria said it could last longer after the country’s highest daily increase in infections.

“The tragedy of COVID-19 is that we know, with the number of new infections that we have seen today, that there will be many further deaths in the days ahead,” Australian Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters.

In Japan, the government said it would urge business leaders to ramp up anti-virus measures such as staggered shifts, and aimed to see rates of telecommuting return to levels achieved during an earlier state of emergency.

“At one point, commuter numbers were down by 70 to 80%, but now it’s only about 30%,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said late on Sunday. “We really don’t want to backtrack on this, so we have to explore new ways of working and keep telecommuting high.”

Vietnam is evacuating 80,000 people, mostly local tourists, from Danang after three residents tested positive at the weekend. Until Saturday, the country had reported no community infections since April.

North Korean state media reported on the weekend that the border town of Kaesong was in lockdown after a person who defected to South Korea three years ago returned this month with symptoms of COVID-19. If confirmed, it would be the first case officially acknowledged by Pyongyang.

Papua New Guinea halted entry for travellers from Monday, except those arriving by air, as it tightens curbs against infections that have more than doubled over the past week.

(Reporting by Reuters bureaus; Writing by Stephen Coates and Peter Graff; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Vietnam quarantines rural community of 10,000 because of coronavirus

Vietnam quarantines rural community of 10,000 because of coronavirus
By Phuong Nguyen

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam has quarantined a community of 10,000 people near the capital, Hanoi, for 20 days because of fears the coronavirus could spread there, two local officials told Reuters on Thursday.

The rural commune of Son Loi, in the northern Vietnameseprovince of Vinh Phuc, 44 km (27 miles) from Hanoi, is home to11 of the 16 coronavirus cases in the Southeast Asian country,including a three-month-old baby.

“Over 10,000 residents of the commune will not be permitted to leave for the next 20 days, starting from today,” the second of the two the officials told Reuters on Thursday.

“As of this evening, we will still allow those who wish to return home to enter but, in the next few days, this place will be totally be sealed,” the official told Reuters by phone.

Both officials declined to be identified citing the sensitivity of the situation.

The coronavirus arrived in Vinh Phuc after people from the province who had been in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the virus was first detected, returned home to Vietnam for the Lunar New Year holiday.

The province is home to factories operated by Japan’s Honda and Toyota.

On Wednesday, state media indicated that Vietnam’s Communist-ruled government could completely seal off the Son Loi commune.

On the same day, a Reuters photographer could see checkpoints manned by police and marked by coronavirus warning signs already in place outside Son Loi. People were still allowed to enter and leave the commune, which has a population of 10,641, according to official data.

Health officials wearing protective suits sprayed disinfectant on vehicles at the checkpoints. Local authorities have set up shops and provided food and face masks for residents there, the first official said.

“Everything is still under control,” said the official. “We are trying very hard to stop the virus spreading to other areas and provinces.”

Vietnam declared a public health emergency over the epidemic on Feb. 1 and banned all flights to and from China, where more than 1,300 people have died from the virus.

The southeast Asia country has made plans to quarantine hundreds of Vietnamese citizens returning from China, including 950 at military camps outside Hanoi, and another 900 at temporary facilities on the Vietnam-China border.

(Editing by John Stonestreet and Barbara Lewis)

UK truck deaths cast spotlight on global trade in humans

UK truck deaths cast spotlight on global trade in humans
By K. Sophie Will

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The discovery of 39 bodies in a truck in London last week cast a spotlight on the global trade in human beings and sparked debate about Britain’s approach to tackling smugglers and traffickers.

A British court heard on Monday that a global crime ring had been involved in smuggling the dead – many of whom appear to have come from Vietnam – as the driver of the truck faced charges of manslaughter and human trafficking.

Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Saturday told authorities to establish whether Vietnamese citizens were among the dead, and to probe allegations of trafficking.

Unlike trafficking, which is control over a person for the purpose of exploitation, smuggling is merely illegal entry into another country – although the latter can turn into the former.

About 10% of the suspected 7,000 slavery victims found in Britain last year were Vietnamese. Most are trafficked for labour such as cannabis cultivation and work in nail salons.

Globally, more than 40 million people are estimated by the United Nations to be trapped in modern slavery as poverty, conflict and climate change fuel the $150-billion-a-year trade.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation asked six anti-slavery experts about how to prevent such deaths from happening again.

SARA THORNTON, BRITAIN’S INDEPENDENT ANTI-SLAVERY COMMISSIONER

“This is a shocking illustration of the cruel and complex issue that is human trafficking in Britain today.

“Whilst we do not yet know the full details of the journeys that these individuals made, this case bears all the hallmarks of human trafficking.

“As we rethink our migration policies, it is essential that the needs of vulnerable migrants are front and centre.

“We need to ensure that new migration policies are stress-tested to ensure that they do not provide opportunities for the traffickers to exploit very vulnerable people.”

MIMI VU, INDEPENDENT ANTI-TRAFFICKING EXPERT IN VIETNAM

“The government and businesses must look at what the root causes are, realising that people that are less educated are more likely to take these risks because they are poor.

“All the work on this has to be done before anyone leaves, as this all has to be done in-country.

“When you address the root causes, you will convince the Vietnamese that this is not worth the risk.

“They have to believe in very concrete meaningful ways that they have a future in Vietnam.

“But we are losing our people to trafficking and slavery.”

LUCILA GRANADA, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF FOCUS ON LABOUR EXPLOITATION

“We must, of course, investigate and punish those who profit from the desperation of people, but to effectively prevent this from happening again we must recognise the role of Britain in driving people into these dangerous routes.

“It is important to recognise that British immigration policies and border control approach have played a key part in restricting their options.

“With no available regular immigration pathways and the constant threat of detention and deportation in transit and upon arrival, those seeking survival in Britain become easy prey.

“This tragedy exposed one more time that prosecuting individual traffickers is not enough. We need to open safe routes of regular migration and end the hostile environment.”

JUSTINE CURRELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF UNSEEN

“Whether people get into the back of a lorry through their own volition or from having been forced or coerced, the ultimate penalty is death.

“Even when trafficking and exploitation is not the primary factor of movement, those entering the country illegally and who lack status become increasingly vulnerable and susceptible to abuse and exploitation.

“Awareness-raising in communities and specific source countries to deter people from putting their lives at risk would help to highlight the pitfalls of taking this dangerous course of action.

“Increased targeted checks at the border may also help to root out such movement and any intervention subsequently made before another disaster occurs.”

PHILIPPA SOUTHWELL, LAWYER AT BIRDS SOLICITORS

“Solving this is not simple, but obviously it’s down to the manning of ports. I know it’s difficult to check each vehicle, and it really is impossible to do one-to-one checking on these vehicles, but we can improve the manning of particular ports.

“Particularly in Asia, people living in poverty are promised a better life and are coming to Britain to work and send money back to their families.

“We need to be looking to build better relationships with these countries, realising what the root problems are there and what can be done.”

NAZIR AFZAL, FORMER CHIEF PROSECUTOR IN NORTHERN ENGLAND

“Human trafficking is organised crime from which criminals benefit.

“Demand has to be reduced through deterrence, the closing down of businesses that engage trafficked people. Simultaneously, authorities need to follow the money and identify it, confiscate it, whilst punishing the offenders.

“Trafficked people need to be seen as victims first and last. They need to be supported to give their best evidence against the traffickers, not threatened with deportation.”

(Reporting by K. Sophie Will, Writing by Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)