Switzerland Provides Essential Food Support to Returning Migrant Workers in Quarantine

Officials from the Lao Government, SDC, and WFP attend the signing ceremony on Monday
Officials from the Lao Government, SDC, and WFP attend the signing ceremony on Monday

VIENTIANE – The Ministry of Health, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the World Food Programme (WFP) agreed on Monday to cooperate to provide food to returnees in mandatory COVID-19 quarantine Centres.

According to the agreement signed at the Ministry of Health today, SDC is contributing nearly USD 790,000 in food assistance for quarantine centres in 6 provinces throughout Lao PDR. This donation will enable WFP and its implementing partners to continue providing three daily nutritious meals to an estimated 8,000 migrant workers returning from neighbouring countries to their home in Laos. The support will cover over 335,000 meals for a period of about 2.5 months.

The provision of daily meals to returning migrant workers in these centres contributes to keeping the returnees in quarantine for the entire mandatory period of 14 days. The support also helps maintain their health and wellbeing, while reducing the financial burden on them and their families.

“The recent wave of COVID-19 cases in Laos can be linked to spikes in infection rates of neighbouring countries. Quarantine centres play a vital role in preventing and controlling their spread across the borders of the country. We are happy that all Lao citizens can return home, while those inside the borders of the country can stay safe from the pandemic. This support contributes to curbing the spread of the pandemic,” said Dr Bounfeng Phommalaysith, Lao Minister of Health.

“This specific support with the WFP is part of a broader effort from Switzerland to support the Lao PDR in combatting the COVID-19 and in recovering from the economic crisis in the wake of the pandemic. Switzerland has provided a total of USD 3.5 million through several projects in response to the Government of Lao PDR’s COVID-19 prevention and control strategy,” said Jean Francois Cuénod SDC Regional Director For Mekong Region.

“We are delighted that the Government of Switzerland is helping to support returning migrants who have faced challenges regarding their income and livelihoods. Since June 2020, our food assistance initiative has – in partnership with the Swiss Red Cross, the Lao Red Cross and World Vision International – delivered about 1 million meals to over 42,000 beneficiaries. With these funds from SDC, we can continue this much-needed activity,” said WFP Deputy Country Director Jacqueline de Groot.