Today, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) the Government of Lao People’s Democratic Republic and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) signed a Cooperation Agreement with the aim to further strengthen cooperation on migration and further develop the good relations between the two parties.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Phoxay Khaykhamphithoune, expressed his sincere gratitude for IOM’s support to the Government of Laos during the momentous signing ceremony.
Migration has significantly contributed to the national socio-economy. The Government of Lao PDR wishes for continued support from IOM in the area of migration including on capacity building programmes, labour migration, anti-trafficking in persons and related activities,” said Mr. Phoxay.
By entering into this agreement, IOM is granted the Privileges and Immunities afforded by the government to accredited United Nations specialized agencies in implementing its work throughout the country, in accordance with the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies.
Under the agreement, IOM will continue to expand its assistance by implementing migration programs in Laos. These include capacity building, advisory services, and technical cooperation on migration issues, migration and health, international migration law, migration and environment, counter-trafficking, immigration, and border management, assisted voluntary return and reintegration, and emergency or post-crisis response.
Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission, IOM Laos, confirmed the commitment on behalf the IOM to promote human capital development and prosperity.
“Today marks a significant milestone for IOM and Government of Lao PDR, which underlines both parties’ mutual interest to strengthen cooperation and work together on migration issues to promote human capital development and prosperity,” she said.
Lao People’s Democratic Republic joined IOM in 2018 as the 171st member state.
Since establishing the IOM office in Vientiane in 2002, Lao authorities have increasingly invested steady, practical steps to build an effective modern-day migration governance system.
The leadership of Laos has demonstrated openness for political and socio-economic reforms, pragmatism in its relations with the neighboring countries and has achieved remarkable results. This is illustrated through the government’s efforts on mainstreaming migration management in the recently endorsed 9th National Socio-Economic Development Plan and efforts to support the migrants in response to the ongoing challenges caused by Covid-19.
The Government of Laos has been providing safe corridors for hundreds of Lao migrants affected by Covid-19, specifically from Thailand, to safely enter the country through formal points of entry regardless of their migration status.
“The significant resources allocated by the government and partners in the state-run quarantine centers to mitigate the risk of high transmission is commendable,” said Ms. Tuladhar.
“We continue to live in challenging times of crisis caused by the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic and other natural and/or man-made disasters. Through this crisis, migrants, particularly women, have become disproportionately vulnerable and stranded. A global crisis, like Covid-19, has also revealed a need for even broader cooperation between the countries of origin, transit, and destination of migrants, between international organizations, government entities, civil society organizations, and the private sector. The agreement signed today is yet another sign of dedication towards the expansion of such,” she said.
The collaborative partnership approach also prioritizes migration and human mobility issues in achieving the 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development. It also provides further opportunities for IOM and the Government of Laos to work toward its commitment under regional and international processes such as the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.
“IOM Laos and my team here in Vientiane, with the full support of our Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok, and guided by our senior leadership in IOM Geneva Headquarters, remains committed to working with the Government of Laos through our relevant migration programs and activities,” said Ms. Tuladhar.