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Vietnam repatriates more than 1,000 of its citizens from Myanmar

Updated Dec. 7, 2023, 5:25 p.m. ET.

Vietnam this week flew home just over 1,000 of its citizens who were stranded in wartorn Myanmar, Hanoi’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced Thursday.

On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, embassies and consulates in Myanmar organized nine flights to repatriate exactly 1,020 Vietnamese. 

Most of the repatriates were stranded in the northern areas of Shan State, where fighting between the junta and ethnic armed groups has intensified, with anti-junta forces making significant gains there in recent months

In the past, Vietnam has organized flights to evacuate its citizens from troubled areas in the world, including an effort during the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in a massive scandal as officials skimmed off the top of repatriation funds and accepted bribes. 

The ministry stressed that expenses for all repatriation flights from Myanmar were paid by the Vietnamese government.

RFA reported earlier this month that 166 Vietnamese citizens who had been trafficked to northern Myanmar but were rescued by authorities, remained stranded in a war zone.

On Thursday, a mother of one of the 166 told RFA Vietnamese that her daughter had returned home that day to Phu Quoc Island City in Vietnam’s far southern Kien Giang province.

“Everything was free of charge,” she said. “The government helped bring my daughter back to Moc Bai [the border gate between Vietnam and Cambodia], and my family paid for her travel from there to Phu Quoc. I am very, very happy.”

She said the Vietnamese Embassy in Myanmar was very supportive, though the repatriation process was a bit complicated due to high volume.

In August, RFA reported that 15-year-old Le Thi Tuong Vi was among a group of teenagers who were trafficked first to Laos, and were believed to be headed to either Myanmar or China. Vi was among those repatriated from Myanmar, her mother told RFA, but did not elaborate because her daughter is still recovering from her trip.

But Trinh Khanh Hoang Anh, another teenager in the group, has yet to be repatriated, his father Trinh Huu Phuoc told RFA via text message.

“There are 166 [Vietnamese] people who have been rescued and were living in a refugee camp of the military,” he said. “This morning, the kids were taken to Myanmar’s Border Gate 127 to verify information but there have been no results yet.”

He said the Kien Giang provincial Department of Foreign Affairs advised the family that Anh’s paperwork has been completed but it has not yet arrived at the Vietnamese Embassy.

According to the embassy, a number of Vietnamese still remain stranded in northern Myanmar due to ongoing fighting, state media reported.

Translated by Anna Vu. Edited by Eugene Whong and Malcolm Foster. 

Update corrects the days that the flights were organized for.