'Behind-the-scenes' stories of Vietnamese citizen protection in Ukraine: Ambassador Dang Tran Phong

On the eve of the first flight to bring Vietnamese citizens evacuated from Ukraine back home, the Vietnamese Ambassador in Romania Dang Tran Phong shared his both happy and worried feelings.
Đại sứ Việt Nam tại Romania Đặng Trần Phong trả lời phóng viên Thông tấn xã Việt Nam về công tác cứu trợ người Việt sơ tán sang Romania. (Nguồn: TTXVN)
Vietnamese Ambassador in Romania Dang Tran Phong. (Source: VNA)

The Ambassador said that, as the conflict broke out in Ukraine, with an expected influx of evacuees to Romania, the Embassy mapped out plans to protect citizens and coordinate with the Vietnamese community in Romania to receive and let the evacuees stay at their home.

On March 3, being informed that a group of Vietnamese arrived at an evacuee reception centre in Chișinău - Moldova's capital and intended to go to Romania, Phong and two Embassy staff and a representative of the Vietnamese Association in Romania set out to Moldova to start an unprecedented campaign.

“There were about 400 people in two refugee locations in the Republic of Moldova 40 km apart. We met with the vacuees, got to know their aspirations, directly supported them in legal procedure and escorted them to Romania. Everything was done before we proposed to arrange flights to bring them back to Viet Nam”, said the Ambassador.

After about 13 hours of travelling and dealing with immigration procedures supported by Romania’s authorities, the convoy arrived safely in Romania's capital – Bucharest, he said.

On the following days, many other groups of Vietnamese evacuees arrived Romania. As of evening of March 7 (local time), the Embassy of Viet Nam in Romania recorded about 830 people fleeing from Ukraine to Romania.

Phong said that the number of evacuees was increasing in the following days, while the Embassy has only 6 official staff and the Vietnamese community in the country is small. “We faced big challenges of receiving, arranging the accommodation for the evacuees and providing them with necessities”, said the Ambassador.

Fortunately, the Embassy has got timely support and close coordination from the Vietnamese associations in arranging transportation, contacting local authorities to provide accommodation and food for Vietnamese citizens.

However, due to an increasing number of evacuees of Ukraineans to Bucharest, local authorities could only provide shelter and food and medical assistance for Vietnamese evacuees within the first 48 hours. The Embassy has asked the local authorities to create favorable conditions for Vietnamese citizens to continue to stay in Romania until flights bringing our citizens back to the country are organized, the Ambassador said.

At the same time, the Embassy worked closely with the unions, sent volunteers from the community on duty 24/24 hours at the central station, and arranged shuttle buses for taking evacuees to temporary accommodation facilities.

Bà con người Việt tập trung ra máy bay.
Vietnamese citizens evacuated from Ukraine gathered on a plane departing from Bucharest (Romania) to homeland.

According to Ambassador Dang Tran Phong, there are only about 200 Vietnamese families with less than 1,000 people living in Romania, along with Vietnamese students, researchers and laborers who are studying and working in the area.

“They are a united community that supports very actively and effectively the evacuated people as well as for the work of the Embassy”, Phong said.

Not only motivating, sharing spiritually and giving dedicated instructions to help people stabilize psychologically, associations and individuals in the community also provide them with free meals, blankets, mattresses and some necessary items for them at the shelter.

The Ambassador said: “I am deeply touched by the fellowship of the Vietnamese community in Romania. Only in this difficult time have we seen the spirit of solidarity and mutual support of the Vietnamese community as well as the good tradition of our Vietnamese nation”.

“On this occasion, I would like to express my sincere thanks to the associations and the Vietnamese community in Romania”, he continued.

Regarding flight no. VN88 that departed from Bucharest on March 7, bringing 287 Vietnamese citizens evacuated from Ukraine to Viet Nam, Phong said the Embassy and he had honour and responsibility in joining the efforts to organize an evacuation flight from Ukraine to Viet Nam.

Embassy staff officials had to work around the clock to receive requests for receiving the evacuees, supporting them to complete relevant documents at the temporary residence, and assisting them in procedures for the evacuation flights without paying a fee.

“To deal with those who lacked or lost their personal papers, that made them wait for a long time at the immigration office, the Embassy had to contact relevant agencies in Viet Nam to issue the documents again”, Ambassador Phong said.

He also shared that making a list of people who wished to return home on the repatriation flights was also extremely stressful because of the large number of registered people.

“Not to waste even one seat on the plane, the Embassy has thoroughly reviewed all the people in the list and also prepared an additional reserve list of 15 people who can replace the last-minute inability to board for unavoidable reasons”, he said.

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Thu Trang (TGVN)