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PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Salesian Sister Helps Incarcerated Vietnamese Fishermen to be Freed and Repatriated to their Home Country

(MissionNewswire) Salesian Sister Ma Theresa Trinh Vu Phuong has been helping Vietnamese fishermen to be freed and repatriated to their home country from their incarceration in Papua New Guinea. More than 130 of these Vietnamese fishermen have been detained in the prisons of Alotau, Giligili and Bomana for illegally fishing and harvesting berche-de-mere in Milne Bay Province. Sr. Trinh looks after the needs of these Vietnamese detainees and serves as interpreter and mediator for them at court hearings.

Sr. Trinh also communicates with their families back home and arranges for payment of penalties. In addition, she gathers all the necessary documents and tickets for them to fly back home to Vietnam. Sr. Trinh is a Vietnamese Salesian Sister working in a girls’ skills training institute in Sideia Island, diocese of Alotau.

“It is very disturbing that these young Vietnamese fishermen might be victims of human trafficking,” says Bishop Rolando Santos of Diocese of Alotau-Sideia. “It is a serious abuse on the rights and dignity of these young men to be sent out by their recruiters to fish in illegal waters without a proper license and without any guarantee of protection or security. Once caught, they are almost totally forgotten and abandoned. The rights of these young men need to be respected and a better employment worthy of their dignity be afforded to them. There is an urgent humanitarian need to put a stop to this.”

Sr. Trinh was already able to successfully process the repatriation of 87 Vietnamese fishermen. About 18 more will soon follow and be able to rejoin their families back home, thanks to the courage of Sr. Trinh and the support given by her Salesian community.

“The governor of Milne Bay Province has expressed his deep gratitude to Sr. Trinh for the help she has given in facilitating the case of the Vietnamese detainees. The diocese is proud of her and her charity is truly heroic,” adds Bishop Santos.

Twenty-eight percent of the country lives below the poverty line. Close to 50 percent of adults are illiterate and 25 percent of children are unable to attend school. Part of the problem with getting to school, work and hospitals has to do with Papua New Guinea’s infrastructure. In rural areas, where nearly 88 percent of the population resides, there are few roads or means of transportation to get to schools or places of employment.



ANS – Papua New Guinea – A heroic sister helps her fellow countrymen: a Vietnamese FMA in Sideia Island

World Bank – Papua New Guinea Poverty

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