When the BBC leads to the rescue of migrants in

When the BBC leads to the rescue of migrants in a truck near Villefranche sur Saône on the A6

Vulnerable migrants in a refrigerated van rescued by gendarmes in France thanks to warning from BBC journalists in London. This unusual story happened within a few hours, on Wednesday September 27th, according to information from Le Monde.

In the morning, the BBC’s Vietnamese language service, based in London, received a message from one of its sources. A Vietnamese woman traveling illegally in the back of a lorry somewhere in France in the hope of getting to the UK panics: the fridge is on, the temperature drops and she panics. A BBC journalist can contact this woman by telephone, who will send her the GPS coordinates of her location.

Faced with an unusual situation, journalists choose urgency: they try, above all, to rescue these migrants from a very dangerous situation. The BBC alerts the French police. The information is quickly transmitted to the security services geographically closest to the truck’s suspected route, on the A6 motorway, somewhere between Mâcon (Saône-et-Loire) and Villefranche-sur-Saône (Rhône).

Truck registered in Lithuania

Thanks to GPS coordinates, the gendarmes on the Villefranche-sur-Saône motorway managed to locate and intercept the semi-trailer at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday as it was traveling south on the A6 motorway. The gendarmes directed the vehicle into the motorway area of ​​Dracé, a municipality in Beaujolais that is located around fifty kilometers north of Lyon. They discovered six women in the refrigerated trailer. According to initial information, four of them are Vietnamese and two are Iraqi citizens. They were hidden in a banana supply and transported in the Lithuanian-registered truck.

The driver of the truck was taken into police custody as part of a case initiated by the Villefranche-sur-Saône public prosecutor’s office for “aiding and abetting illegal residence”. The seven women are being held safely and are awaiting review of their administrative situation. According to initial hearings, they were concerned that the truck was heading south in the wrong direction while they were hoping to reach the north towards the United Kingdom.

The BBC’s Vietnamese service has been working for years to smuggle illegal immigrants trying to reach the UK. The scale of the phenomenon became clear on October 23, 2019, when 39 Vietnamese were found dead in the back of a truck: 31 men and 8 women aged 15 to 44. The driver had forgotten to turn on the ventilation and the migrants had suffocated in terrible heat somewhere during the crossing between Belgium and England. Eleven smugglers were sentenced to a total of almost one hundred years in prison.

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