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IOM Handover Personal Protective Equipment to the Department of Immigration to Ensure Safety of Migrants and Frontline Officials

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Vientiane Capital – On 10 September 2021, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Australian Embassy to Lao People’s Democratic Republic handed over Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Covid-19 response materials to the Department of Immigration (DOI), General Department of Public Security, the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS) at Wattay International Airport. The support will ensure the safety of travellers, migrants, frontline officials, and provide safe and effective migration and border management during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The generous support was made possible by the Government of Australian through the Department of Home Affairs under the Mekong Region project. Mr. Dan Heldon, Deputy Head of Mission, Australian Embassy to Lao People’s Democratic Republic gave opening remarks, in partnership with IOM, our regional program on “Responding to Cross Border Mobility Challenges at Points of Entry” was able to provide necessary assistance to ensure safety of migrants and frontline Officials, particularly at the critical checkpoints across the country. Australia is committed to assist the Lao Government in time of need on safe migration. We will also continue to work together to strengthen health security, build the foundation for economic recovery, and protect the most vulnerable, including women, children, and people with disabilities.”

The influx of returnees amid the COVID-19 pandemic have been challenging for frontline officials at Points of Entry (PoEs). There are approximately 1,900 returnee migrants arriving at PoEs a day, and more than 8,000 migrants in quarantine centres as of September 2021. Therefore, this contribution comes at a crucial time as it will protect the frontline border officials at key entry points as they provide immigration services to the travellers and migrants coming back into the country.

Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission, IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic, marking the importance of COVID-19 respond: “Over a year the pandemic, multiple waves of COVID-19 cases at different intervals have been increased. Support on public health to frontline officials at the points of entry to safeguard their safety and the crossing migrant are essential. To meet the International Health Relation (IHR), IOM Lao PDR has worked closely with the Department of Immigration to provide support on Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPEs), capacity building, and developed the Standard Operation Procedures to frontline officials to prevent disease transmission and contamination of working and living premises and ensuring safety of frontline officials, travelers, and migrants”

Pol. Lt. Col Souksamai Xayyaseng, Deputy Director General of Immigration Department, General Department of Public Security, MoPS, expressed his gratitude towards IOM and the Australian Embassy to Lao PDR for the continued support, “Department of Immigration has recognized and appreciated the support from the International Organization for Migration and the Australian Embassy to Lao PDR who have been always assisting the Department of Immigration in responding to COVID-19 at the points of entry over years since the pandemic outbreak,” he said.

Mr. Holden and Ms. Tuladhar handed over the PPE to Pol. Lt. Col Souksamai Xayyaseng during the event. It includes 30,000 surgical masks, 325 litres of hand sanitizers, 225 litres of disinfectant alcohol, 30 sets of PPE suit, 51 surgical gloves, 10 automatic thermometers, 4 handwashing stations, and Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials on safe migration and COVID-19 precaution measures.

IOM has been actively working on addressing challenges of large number of migrants returning across the region. The pandemic has significantly changed human mobility and trade patterns, and as travel restrictions created new risks for migrants, as many have become stranded or find themselves in irregular situations. Recently, IOM supported the Department of Immigration to develop Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to provide quick guidance for frontline border officials to prevent disease transmission and contamination of the working and living premises by COVID-19, supporting traveling migrants at the Points of Entry as well as effectively manage suspected and/or probable COVID-19 cases. The SOP has been adopted and is being implemented at many crucial points of entry across the country.

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.

For more information, please contact Koraket Tanseri, Communications Intern, at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)54 874 178. Email: ktanseri@iom.int