IOM Partners with Lao Ministry of Public Security to Address Mobility Challenges in Border Management under COVID-19

Zena Van Bemmel-Faulkner, Head of Office a.i. of IOM, handing over Personal Protective Equipment to Pol. Major General Kongthong Phongvichit, Deputy Minister of Public Security at the signing ceremony.

Vientiane – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) today (17 September) launched the project - Responding to COVID-19 Cross Mobility Challenges at Points of Entry in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

The pandemic has significantly changed mobility and trade patterns, as travel restrictions created new risks for migrants, many have become stranded or found themselves in irregular situations. According to the World Tourism Organization, 100 per cent of all destinations worldwide continue to have some COVID-19 travel restrictions in place.

IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic has been closely monitoring the large number of migrants returning across the region to ensure an effective and timely response to relevant challenges. Under its Health, Border and Mobility Management Framework, IOM sets to improve the prevention, detection, and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination, and return. 

The official opening ceremony of the project attracted 39 representatives from different line ministries of the Lao Government, IOM, and UN partners. Both MoPS and IOM presented on the current situation at  Points of Entry (PoEs), including border management during COVID-19, and how planned activities can enhance government officials’ capacity to mitigate challenges in managing large scale cross-border migration flows during COVID-19.

Police Colonel Saysaming Sivilay, Director General of Immigration Department MoPS received essential Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline border officials from IOM. Pol. Col. Sivilay thanked IOM for the critical support and expressed his eagerness for upcoming collaborations. “The project will not only bring benefits to the immigration, but also all frontline agencies to achieve safe operation of border control in the near future” He said. The equipment will be used to minimize the risk exposure of border officials and travellers at PoEs.

Given the cross-sectoral nature of migration, a whole-of-government approach is needed to effectively respond to migration-related challenges under COVID-19. With joint funds received from the Australian Government and the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund (MPTF) under this project, IOM will engage MoPS, the National COVID-19 Taskforce, WHO, UNODC and relevant line ministries working at the frontline to develop migrant-inclusive approaches. All is set to better support the Lao government in managing PoEs and cross-border migration flows, as well as assisting vulnerable populations.

This six-month project will support the development of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for frontline officials and tailored capacity building trainings to strengthen preparedness and response efforts to the COVID-19 outbreak at ten frequently-used PoEs across Lao People’s Democratic Republic, including both international airports and land borders. Additionally, tailored risk communication materials will be developed for incoming and outgoing travellers and migrants in migrant-inclusive languages; activities will be implemented to address PPE and infrastructure needs at PoEs.

39 representatives of key stakeholders including different line ministries and development partners attended the ceremony.

For more information please contact Karen HO at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)21 267 734. Email: kho@iom.int

Media Contacts
Author
Karen Ho
IOM
Development Communications Officer
Keren Ho - Photo
UN entities involved in this initiative
IOM
International Organization for Migration
UNODC
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
WHO
World Health Organization