Beijing [China], June 19 (ANI): Chinese nationals are trafficking Vietnamese citizens to work in Cambodian casinos, officials said, adding that they were offered these jobs online and were often assaulted when they tried to escape.
Vietnamese officials warned that the citizens of Vietnam are being lured into migrating to Cambodia, sometimes illegally, with attractive but often fraudulent offers to work in casinos and online gaming establishments, reported South China Morning Post.
Last week, the Vietnamese embassy in Cambodia highlighted the risks of trafficking, noting both the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and the difficulty of controlling the porous border between the two countries.
In a Facebook post, the Vietnamese embassy urged its citizens to be vigilant about suspicious advertisements for jobs offering between USD 800 and USD 1,000 a month.
"According to [victims], we found out that the operation to entice and bring Vietnamese people to Cambodia is led by a number of Chinese people, with the participation of both Vietnamese and Cambodians,'' SCMP quoted the embassy as saying.
"After the victims agree to the job, criminal groups will arrange for them to go to Cambodia ... [where they] will be brought to hotels or casinos that are concentrated in Sihanoukville," the embassy added, noting that the targets were subsequently trained to find and entice potential customers for online gambling, which has been banned in Cambodia since 2019.
Sihanoukville, which has received massive Chinese investment in recent years, has emerged as one of the primary destinations for labour trafficking, SCMP reported.
However, the Chinese embassy in Cambodia had also flagged concerns about trafficking related to online gambling, releasing a statement last September warning that Chinese citizens were being smuggled into Cambodia from Vietnam and elsewhere to work in illegal sectors.
The Vietnamese embassy's Facebook post also detailed how victims were closely monitored and forced to work 16 hours a day. Many were physically assaulted when they tried to escape. The victims who refused to work and wanted to return to Vietnam were beaten and forced to take on debts between USD 1,000 and USD 8,000 or were sold to another company.
Kristin Parco, chief mission of the UN's International Organization for Migration in Cambodia, said reduced wages, job losses and the increased reliance on the internet, among other pandemic effects, have created a "fertile recruitment ground for traffickers".
"Covid-19 has created new vulnerabilities as well as exacerbated existing ones and increased risks of exploitation of individuals and communities to trafficking networks," she said.
"Traffickers have adjusted their business models by exploiting modern communications technologies. Online trafficking and exploitation have evidently spiked since the beginning of the pandemic in the region," she added. (ANI)