The city of Da Lat is the capital of the Lam Dong province in southern Vietnam. The north of the province is very mountainous and around 70 per cent is covered in forests.
The region scores lower than the national average in terms of life expectancy and literacy. Those living in rural or mountainous areas face particular hardships. Many people decide to leave the rural areas and find a better future in the cities. However, life in urban areas such as Da Lat is also fraught with difficulties.
Since 1969, SOS Children’s Villages has been supporting children, young people and families and advocating for their rights in Da Lat.
Children are the first victims of the harsh social and economic circumstances in Da Lat. Many children lose parental care for one of the following reasons: that one or both parents have died due to AIDS, that the parents have been affected by traffic or work-related accidents, or that parents have migrated to other regions or abroad.
Currently, around 170,000 children are without parental care in Vietnam. Some of these children are left in the care of extended family members, but in many cases, the relatives are also unable to look after them. Children from rural areas often migrate to the cities on their own. When they arrive to cities like Da Lat, they are at risk of exploitation and abuse.
Human trafficking is a problem in the region where Da Lat is located and internal trafficking is often linked to rural-urban migration.
A 2020 study suggests that 5.6% of children in Vietnam experience forced labour related to trafficking or in the context of migration. Many are forced to work in the garment sector, gold mines, or are coerced into street hawking and begging in urban centres. Sex traffickers target many women and children from ethnic minorities from impoverished rural areas. Da Lat is reported to be a major destinations of trafficking where the majority are forced to work in commercial sexual exploitation or forced into domestic service.