Vientiane – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MoLSW) today (18 December) marked the closing of the project – Enhancing COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness to Migrants and Mobility Affected Communities in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.
The half-day workshop was attended by 25 representatives including the Lao government, IOM, ILO representative and private recruitment agencies. As IOM recapped the project background, partnership and main activities undertaken and reflected on the challenges encountered, the Skills Development and Employment Department (SDED), MoLSW presented on the project results and relevant plans for the future. Both sides shared the lessons learned and recognized the collective efforts of their teams to bring the project to a successful close.
Ms. Vanny Keoxayyavong, Deputy Director General of the SDED, MoLSW, noted that the project has solidified the capacity of government officials to understand and implement safe migration schemes. “Potential migrant workers, through this project, are now more aware of the risks and protection mechanisms against COVID-19,” she expressed. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at IOM, added that the findings of the assessment conducted under this project will be key to informing future support methods for migrant workers who are increasingly at risk under the pandemic.
The six-month project has engaged 11,053 village, district, provincial officials and community residents in safe migration trainings and campaigns across eight provinces in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, with the total of 1,212 direct assistance packs, 1,008 boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE) and 46,921 information, education and communication (IEC) materials distributed to marginalized groups. Six community and provincial quarantine centres were visited for rapid assessment of facilities and well-being of migrants, and for handing over of necessary supports.
Based on the interviews with 386 returned migrants and victims of trafficking staying at the quarantine centres, IOM published the Returning Migrants Survey, which provides insight into their profiles and vulnerabilities, migrants’ conditions at the centres, their migration journey, onward plans and how COVID-19 had impacted their lives.
Under the bus campaign, seven posters on safe migration and COVID-19 prevention were developed and installed on bus routes with high usage by migrants, reaching approximately 2,461 people per day across five bus routes. IOM also shared COVID-19 and safe migration information with community radio broadcasters for wider dissemination of essential messages in 36 districts in nine provinces alongside the Lao-Thai border. The NO stigma radio script also continues to be broadcast, reaching approximately 300,000 people weekly across five provinces.
The funds received from the Government of Japan have enabled IOM to conduct migrant-inclusive risk communication and community engagement activities across the country, strengthening the capacity of government officials to address challenges in safe migration and enhancing migrants’ access to essential and timely information on COVID-19.
IOM and MoLSW agreed to continue the collaboration in the coming years to address the needs and vulnerabilities of mobile populations, especially migrant workers in precarious livelihoods and irregular situations; further efforts will be made to liaise and coordinate with relevant stakeholders to develop recommendations for the inclusion of migrants into national health preparedness plans, particularly vaccination rollouts.
For more information please contact Suhyun PARK at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (0)55 136 294. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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