IOM’s Vientiane office opened in 2002 with technical support from the IOM Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok. Today, IOM works closely with the Lao Government and relevant counterparts, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Planning and Investment, the Ministry of Health and the Lao Women’s Union on policy development, capacity building and raising awareness of migration-related issues. The Lao People’s Democratic Republic joined IOM as its 171st Member State in June 2018.
Migration Activities in Lao People’s Democratic Republic
Since 2007, IOM has been working closely with the Ministry of Health on its migration health programme. To date, it has implemented a range of health projects addressing issues including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis (TB), avian and human influenza (AHI) and malaria. IOM has coordinated closely with national, provincial, and local authorities, advocating for the inclusion of migrants in national health policies and action plans, and a rights-based approach to public health. Key components of these programme activities have focused on awareness raising, outreach initiatives, capacity development, and social mobilization.
From September to December 2018, IOM conducted a Migration Health Impact Assessment in collaboration with Ministry of Health, Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare along the construction site of China-Laos railway, or ‘Boten-Vientiane Railway’ which is expected to be operational in December 2021. During the construction phase, thousands of jobs are expected to be created for the Lao workforce throughout the country, and to bring an estimated 30,000 Chinese workers to fill the labour and skills needed. Whilst this can bring significant economic gain for the country’s development, there could be health and other social and environmental impacts that could increase the vulnerability of people due to high mobility and interaction between migrants and local communities. The assessment aimed to analyze the current health-related situations and assess the potential health impacts with a focus on communicable disease. Through this assessment, IOM developed a strategic approach and recommendations to address health needs and mitigate health impacts of migrant workers and host communities during and after the railway construction.
For more information on IOM migration health projects in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, please refer to the Migration Health Factsheet. For more information on IOM Malaria interventions among border communities in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, please refer to the Malaria Project Infosheet.
For more information on this IOM Migration Health Impact Assessment, please refer to the Migration Health Impact Assessment Infosheet.
Labour Migration/Special Economic Zones (SEZs)
- Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
- The Government of Italy
- IOM Development Fund (IDF)
There are currently 12 SEZs in Lao People’s Democratic Republic and as of May 2018, there were 11,097 foreign workers and 9,002 Lao workers – totaling to 20,099. The establishment and expansion of SEZs has also attracted large numbers of both internal and external migrant workers, in some cases posing risks to workers’ rights. Cases of unethical recruitment practices and violation of labour rights have been observed, particularly in Northern SEZs. From 2017 to 2018, IOM partnered with the Special Economic Zone Promotion and Management Office (SEZO) to implement the Corporate Responsibility in Eliminating Slavery and Trafficking (CREST) project. This encourages companies in SEZs to adopt ethical recruitment practices and to enhance their corporate social responsibility activities. It also raises awareness of human and labour rights.
In 2017, IOM launched a regional programme funded by the SDC, which seeks to define a clear pathway to promote better employment opportunities and working conditions for migrants, especially women, from Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Myanmar (PROMISE). The project aims to contribute to poverty reduction through safe migration and skills development, in coordination with the private sector, training institutions, civil society, and governments. The project started in 2018 in Lao People’s Democratic Republic. Key activities planned in Lao People’s Democratic Republic for 2019 including: safe migration and soft skills training; facilitation of cross-border training and placement models between Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Thailand; and needs assessment of existing Migrant Resource Centres.
For more information on SEZs in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, please refer to the SEZs Factsheet.
For more information on PROMISE project, please refer to the PROMISE Factsheet.
United States Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM)
United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL)
European Union (EU)
Since 2001, IOM’s office in Lao People’s Democratic Republic has provided assistance to the Lao government in addressing human trafficking and exploitation and in reducing the number of vulnerable migrants affected. IOM has been supporting the identification, referral, and protection of trafficked victims, and assisting in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting cases of human trafficking. By doing so, it helps government and civil society partners to develop capacity in victim identification screening and conducting interviews while providing victims access to support services. To date, IOM has directly supported over 2,500 vulnerable migrants in the country through emergency assistance.
For more information on IOM counter trafficking projects in Lao People’s Democratic Republic, please refer to the Counter Trafficking Factsheet
Immigration and Border Management
As a country that shares long land borders with five other neighboring countries, Lao People’s Democratic Republic is particularly susceptible to being used as a source or point of transit for human smugglers and traffickers. Traffic is growing rapidly at the 27 international border control points (BCPs) and 36 local checkpoints in Lao People’s Democratic Republic due to the increased in economic and infrastructure development however, the capacity of border officials to detect smuggling and trafficking remains low.
IOM has been working closely with the Department of Immigration and the Department of Anti-Trafficking, both under the Ministry of Public Security, to combat migrant smuggling and human trafficking through a series of foundation trainings, thematic trainings, and border management technology support. IOM has also delivered three Verifier Travel Document and Bearer (TD&B) systems to three BCPs with the Government of Canada’s support to detect imposters and fraudulent passports for safe and orderly migration.
For more information on ACCBP and IOM’s approach on IBM, please refer to the IBM Factsheet.
Disaster Response and Displacement Management
Lao People’s Democratic Republic is prone to recurrent hazards including floods, drought, and landslides. Floods are highly disruptive to the livelihoods of people since affected areas often include primary economic activities (such as agriculture) and are home to over 60%of the population. Six major floods from 2008-2016 have displaced more than 110,811 people, making the country one of the most disaster-prone areas in Southeast Asia. In 2015, IOM developed and implemented its first disaster risk management (DRM) project: “Strengthening Capacity to Respond to Humanitarian Emergencies in Lao People’s Democratic Republic.” This project targeted the central government and delivered three provincial trainings in the areas of shelter, camp coordination/camp management, and the provision of humanitarian relief items.
From July 2018 to February 2019, IOM provided technical expertise in disaster response, displacement management, and migration health to assist the victims and affected population of the flooding in Attapeu province. IOM provided material support and conducted capacity building trainings for government officials and camp managers on Displacement Tracking Matrix and Camp Coordination/Camp Management, as well as village volunteers to disseminate Build Back Safer messages to affected households. In addition, IOM conducted three rounds of data collections after which produced the Displacement Tracking Matrix reports and provided a number of technical tools and resources on Shelter and Camp Coordination/Camp Management with key government partners.
For the health sector, IOM donated mosquito nets and clothes for men and women in flood affected area, as well as medical equipment along with related trainings to three health facilities in the districts. IOM also provided vehicles on the ground to assist the distribution of medical equipment, such as vaccinations and assisted in the transportation of health staffs. In February 2019, IOM also assisted the Lao-Thai government cooperation on the deployment of a joint psychologist team and facilitated the training for medical and non-medical professionals in the flood affected districts.
IOM Lao People’s Democratic Republic Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/IOM.Laos.int/