Home Office launches social media campaign in Vietnam to deter illegal migrants

A screenshot of a Home Office social media campaign launched in Vietnam to deter migrants from coming to the UK illegally.
Adverts will appear on Facebook and YouTube. Credit: PA

Social media adverts aimed at deterring Vietnamese migrants from coming to the UK illegally have been launched by the Home Office as part of a new campaign.

The drive, which begins on Monday, will use adverts on Facebook and YouTube to target people in the southeast Asian country who may be considering making illegal journeys to the UK.

An increasing proportion of small boat migrants are Vietnamese and they are one of the top 10 nationalities for migrants crossing the Channel illegally, the Home Office said.

The department added that the adverts will "set out the risks of being indebted to and exploited by the people-smuggling gangs who profit from facilitating small boat crossings".

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ITV News has previously reported on the misleading, dark reality that awaits Vietnamese migrants once they have been smuggled into the UK.

The campaign will also warn prospective Vietnamese migrants of the "reality of living in the UK illegally with no right to be in the UK and no access to public services or funding", and use "real testimonies from those who regret coming to the UK illegally".

In one advert, a migrant shares his experience of sleeping in a camp in Calais for five nights under the supervision of armed guards, before taking the journey across the Channel from France to the UK.

The migrant, referred to as K, says in the advert: "Never again would I risk my life in a small boat, even if you bribed me."

Vietnamese social media users will also be directed by the campaign to a new website featuring videos from Border Force officers describing "shocking cases" and their experiences of "rescuing small boat migrants from life-threatening danger in the Channel".

The Home Office said the launch followed "successful social media activity" in Albania, France and Belgium, adding that similar campaigns were "also being considered for other priority countries".

Home Secretary James Cleverly said: "This is a powerful campaign which demonstrates first-hand that life for people arriving here illegally is a far cry from the lies they have been sold by the gangs on the other side of the Channel.

"Last year, similar work contributed to a 90% reduction in small boat arrivals from Albania, and overall numbers are down by a third, but there is more to do.

"Expanding our campaign to Vietnam, another key partner in our work to tackle illegal migration, will help us to save more lives and dent the business model of the criminals who profit from this vile trade."

UK and Vietnamese authorities "already work closely" to prevent illegal journeys to the UK and remove those with no right to be in the country, according to the Home Office.

The department added that senior officials from the UK and Vietnam are due to meet in London on April 17, to "discuss working in even closer partnership on migration issues".

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