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Relatives of John Hoang Van Tiep, one of the Vietnamese people found dead aboard a lorry in Britain, attend a funeral mass in Nghe An province Relatives of John Hoang Van Tiep, one of the Vietnamese people found dead aboard a lorry in Britain, attend a funeral mass in Nghe An province 

Remains of Vietnamese migrants returned home

The remains of more than a dozen Vietnamese citizen who were found dead in a refrigerated truck in Britain have arrived back in Vietnam. The bodies came home while elsewhere, migrants drowned in the Mediterranean Sea.

By Stefan J. Bos

For their loved ones, it was a painful moment. The bodies of 16 Vietnamese people were flown from Britain to Hanoi's Noi Bai Airport. They were to be taken by ambulance to their family homes.

They were among 39 migrants - eight women and 31 males, including two boys aged 15 - found in a truck in Essex north-east of London. The discovery of the bodies on October 23 shocked the nation.  

But the suffering of those who stay behind is far from over. Authorities have warned that repatriation of each body will cost each of the victims' families more than 66.2 million Vietnamese dongs (nearly $3,000).
The Vietnamese government has offered loans. But critics say this will only add to the debts the impoverished families already incurred by helping their relatives make the journey to Britain.

British and Vietnamese investigations are continuing after the truck driver admitted plotting to assist illegal immigration.

More misery

The tragedy isn't an isolated incident. Many migrants trying to flee persecution and poverty have drowned.

On Wednesday Spanish authorities confirmed that four migrants died while attempting to cross the Mediterranean Sea from the shores of northern Africa.

Spain's maritime rescue service said however that its rescue craft could rescue 58 people from the small boat, some 58 kilometers northeast fromfrom the coast of Morocco the night before.

Rescuers recovered three bodies while another person died after reaching land.

Italy's coast card has also been confronted with human misery this week.

Girl saved

It has released dramatic footage showing the rescue of a young girl whose boat had capsized in adverse weather conditions.

A coastguard diver managed to retrieve the child from the water.

She had been seen floating in the sea with her father in a large group of people.

Many more are expected to try to migrate to Western Europe.

They include migrants trying to cross the Balkans, where aid workers have warned of a humanitarian crisis at the start of winter.  

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos
27 November 2019, 17:18