U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper discussed efforts to combat human trafficking in his first visit to Lao Cai Province, which borders China, earlier this week.
“Countering human trafficking is a priority for the U.S. government and I want to thank you for our excellent cooperation here, including on several counter-trafficking projects in Lao Cai supported by the U.S. Embassy,” Knapper said, as cited in a U.S. embassy’s statement.
During the two-day trip on Monday and Tuesday, Knapper met with local authorities, NGO representatives, and the staff of a U.S.-backed program to fight human trafficking in the province.
In a meeting with Trinh Xuan Truong, chairman of the People’s Provincial Committee of Lao Cai, Ambassador Knapper discussed the 10th year anniversary of the U.S.-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership, which includes the U.S.-supported counter-trafficking in persons (TIP) program.
Knapper also met with frontline workers to discuss the training they have received from the U.S. Agency for International Development (EpiC) project.
The project has trained 50 social workers, representatives from the Women’s Union, members of the border guard, and other locals in Lao Cai on practices in receiving and supporting trafficking survivors.
The ambassador congratulated officials on completing their provincial coordination framework with EpiC’s support.
Knapper also learned about the challenges facing trafficking survivors once they return to their communities when he visited Compassion House in Lao Cai Town, a government-owned shelter for trafficking survivors run by the NGO Pacific Links Foundation.
He spoke with shelter staff and representatives from the Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs about the services they provide to trafficking survivors, including health screening, counseling, vocational training, life skills training, and job placement.
Shelter staff described how the profile of trafficking survivors changed during the pandemic and what they expect to see following the reopening of the border with China.
The ambassador also visited Ethos Spirit in Sa Pa Town, a social enterprise that works with Hmong, Dao, and other ethnic minority communities in mountainous areas to provide experiential tours for travelers seeking authentic cultural exchanges.
The economic opportunities they offer are expected to help reduce the risk of trafficking in those communities.
Hundreds of thousands of women from Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar have been smuggled or taken to China to wed local men, activists say. Some end up happily married, but many others suffer violence and forced labor.
In most cases, the victims are from poor families, and are tricked by acquaintances who promise them job opportunities with decent pay in China.FROM VNEXPRESS