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Ministry, IOM partner to strengthen Covid-19 response at border crossings

The government and the International Organisation for Migration have launched the project “Responding to Covid-19 Cross Challenges at Points of Entry in Laos”, to prevent a second wave of the virus.
Agreements on the project were signed in Vientiane on Thursday by the Director General of the Department of Immigration under the Ministry of Public Security, Colonel Saysaming Sivilay, and Head of Office of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Laos, Ms Zena Van Bemmel.

The signing was witnessed by the Deputy Minister of Public Security, Major General Kongthong Phongvichith, and other senior officials.
The six-month project will support the development of standard operating procedures for frontline officials and tailored capacity-building trainings to strengthen preparedness and response efforts to the Covid-l9 outbreak at 10 frequently-used points of entry in Laos, including international airports and land borders.
Additionally, tailored risk communication materials will be developed for incoming and outgoing travellers and migrants in migrant-inclusive languages, while activities will be implemented to address personal protective equipment and infrastructure needs at points of entry.
The government and the IOM have 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, the IOM aims to improve the prevention, detection, and response to the spread of diseases at points of origin, transit, destination, and return.
The project will be carried out at 10 international points of entry, namely Wattay International Airport, Luang Prabang Airport, Champassak Airport, Savannakhet Airport, Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 1 in Vientiane, Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 2 in Savannakhet, Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 3 in Khammuan province, Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 4 in Bokeo, Vangtao-Chongmek International Border Checkpoint in Champassak province, and the Laos-China Boten-Mohan border crossing in Luang Namtha province.
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 under this project, the IOM will engage the Ministry of Public Security, 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 points of entry and cross-border migration flows, as well as assisting vulnerable populations.
Colonel Saysaming was given essential personal protective equipment for use by frontline border officials from the IOM. The equipment will be used to minimise the risk of exposure of border officials and travellers at points of entry.

By Phomphong Laoin
(Latest Update
September 18,

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