Home Office launches social media ads in Vietnam to deter small boat migrants

UK

The Home Office is launching social media adverts to deter Vietnamese nationals from travelling to the UK illegally in small boats.

According to the government, an increasing number of migrants arriving illegally in the UK via the Channel are from Vietnam.

New ads, building on similar ones already used in Albania, will be written in Vietnamese and feature testimonies from people who were misled by the claims of people smuggling gangs.

One migrant, referred to as K, recalls sleeping in a camp in Calais for five nights under the supervision of armed guards before crossing the Channel in a small boat.

He says: “Never again would I risk my life in a small boat even if you bribed me.”

Another, G, says: “I was lying to my family back home. I’m still in debt.”

Someone referred to as A adds: “We still owe £5,500 for the journey.”

More on Migrant Crisis

Provisional figures have revealed 514 migrants travelled in 10 small boats across the Channel in a single day on Wednesday.

So far this year, illegal small boat arrivals stand at 4,043 – 10% higher than at the same point in 2023.

It comes as video footage, released by the charity Lighthouse Reports, appears to show a French border force boat using aggressive tactics to physically force a migrant boat to turn around.

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‘Aggressive tactics’ used by French border force

Debunking myths about life in the UK as an illegal migrant

The new Home Office adverts aim to debunk myths circulated by criminal gangs – both about the journey and living illegally in the UK when they arrive.

They warn that the Channel is one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, so small boats often risk being hit by larger vessels.

They also say that many boats disintegrate during the journey, leaving passengers at risk of dying by drowning or of hypothermia within minutes.

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On life as an illegal migrant in the UK, they say those who make the journey risk getting into debt with criminal gangs, being forced into modern slavery, and living in inhumane accommodation.

Immigration enforcement and Border Force employee testimonials are also included.

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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.”

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