On 11 October 2019, two Vietnamese boys disappear from a Dutch shelter for underage refugees. They were found by the Dutch police in the loading space of a truck in the spring of 2019 and have since been staying in the protected shelter in Limburg, in a location that is kept secret. But the young people do not live there locked up. Therefore, it is not possible for the escorts to stop them when they leave, even if it is suspected that they are not doing this of their own free will.
In the center of Limburg, they have more often experienced young people ‘leaving’ under questionable circumstances. As a result, both the mentors of the reception and the Dutch police are prepared when the two Vietnamese youths set out on October 11 in Limburg. The two appear to be picked up by a Brussels taxi, which is chased unnoticed by the Dutch police to a terraced house in the Brussels municipality of Anderlecht. A spokesman for the Dutch police said: “Due to the good and regular contact with the reception, the possible departure was anticipated in time and the police were able to follow both to an address in Belgium.”
Strong influence of smugglers
There is a structural problem with Vietnamese minors who disappear from reception – this is evident in both the Netherlands and Belgium. According to figures from the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers (COA), all unaccompanied minor refugees who disappeared from the protected reception system in the Netherlands in 2019 were Vietnamese. According to the Belgian counterpart Fedasil, eighteen Vietnamese minors went to reception in Belgium in 2018 and twelve disappeared. In 2019, 28 came and 22 disappeared, in 2020 so far 12 and 9 disappeared (figure of June 12). Vietnamese minors who disappear from reception are rarely found by the authorities. They are usually under the strong influence of their smugglers, through loans taken out by family members.
An earlier disappearance of six Vietnamese youngsters from the same shelter in Limburg shows how much Vietnamese teenagers are under the control of smugglers. The institution made a detailed report of this disappearance.
Two of these six youngsters only arrived in the center that day. One of their mentors notes that they already seem to know the other Vietnamese teens in the shelter, although they have previously denied that. Mentors see clues all day that something is on the way. The teenagers sometimes seem to deliberately disappear from sight, they watch on the internet videos about Vietnamese young people who are put to work in cannabis cultivation by cannabis traffickers in Western Europe. They also seem to be busy discussing, pointing to the environment as someone who explains the way. One of them portrays a bird in front of the others.
At 7:00 pm, another Vietnamese youth informs a counselor through a translation program on his phone that he knows the two new boys will run away. The report states: “He is doing this out of sight of these young people and is afraid that they will see that he is sharing this information. Security has been called and asked to keep an eye on things. ”
Half an hour later the six youngsters put on coats. The police are then called. The six will stand on the football field of the institution. Mentors watching them watch the six run into the bushes at 8:30 PM. Now the emergency number of the police is called. A mentor still sees the youngsters on a field nearby. However, when the police arrive with four vehicles, the young people cannot be found.
At around 9:30 PM, a mentor speaks to the boy through an interpreter who warned that the six would be leaving. He says they hid in a corn field and were picked up there by a car.
He entered the same smuggling network as she did in Europe, is afraid and wants to report it. Whether this also happened is unknown. But the police have learned from the incident, it appears on October 11.
After the chase to Anderlecht on that date, the Dutch police have “handed the matter over to the Brussels police,” she says. But she does not explain why she did not intervene when the two youths, one of whom was a minor, were smuggled across the border.
Choking and overheating
Less than two weeks later, on October 23, the two boys, along with 37 others, are found dead in a refrigerated truck in Essex, England. All died in the closed trailer on a ferry to England due to suffocation and overheating.
Also read this report by correspondent Annemarie Kas about the parents of the migrants who died in Essex
Shortly afterwards, the Vietnamese authorities reveal the identity of the victims. Both come from the poor northeast of Vietnam. The boys are called Dinh Dinh Thai Quyen and Tran Noc Hieu. The first was 18 years old at his death and was from Hai Phong city. The second was 17 and was from Hai Duong Province.
The Belgian federal prosecutor’s office says that it was only after ‘Essex’ that the boys stayed in Anderlecht. The Brussels public prosecutor’s office, which must have been aware, does not want to comment for the time being.
After a few months, the police intervene at the Anderlecht hiding address of the two boys. On 26 May, a month ago, a search was conducted there on behalf of the federal public prosecutor’s office. The Brussels taxi driver who brought the boys to Anderlecht is also arrested during that operation.
Also read this reconstruction of the fatal journey of the Vietnamese migrants