IOM, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Completed Workshop on Consular Contingency Planning

Posted: 
03/26/21

Vientiane – On 23 and 24 March 2021, the International Organization of Migration (IOM), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), and the US Embassy convened a workshop on Consular Contingency Planning under the project Combating Human Trafficking through Reinforcing Judicial Capacity and Enhancing Border Security in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (CHARJ+), supported by the Bureau of Internal Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL), U.S. Department of State.

The two-day workshop attracted 55 participants from MOFA, Lao Women’s Union (LWU), Ministry of Public Security (MOPS), Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare (MOLSW) and IOM.

Opening the ceremony, Ms. Shareen Tuladhar, Chief of Mission at IOM, thanked all participants for joining the workshop. “This workshop is a valuable opportunity for us to equip government institutions to ensure that there is a huma response to migrants in vulnerable situations.” She said.

Ms. Julia Benson, Vice Consul at the U.S. Embassy, appreciated efforts from Lao People’s Democratic Republic to combat human trafficking, and highlighted the important role of consular officials in assisting Lao nationals overseas in case of emergency. “INL is pleased to support this training given its relevance to the U.S. Trafficking-in-persons (TIP) report, and the Lao national anti-trafficking plan.” She added.

“I’m confident that this training can enhance relations and cooperation between the Consular Department and IOM in contingency planning.” Mr. Siphandone Oybouabouddy, Director-General of Consular Department, MOFA said. He then thanked IOM for supporting MOFA representatives to attend important trainings and meetings on migration-related affairs, and hope to further strengthen the partnership.

The workshop set to equip consular officials and MOFA counterparts with structures and guidance under the Migrants in Countries in Crises (MICIC) framework in drafting the consular contingency plans to enhance preparation for emergencies that could affect their national abroad. There were three key objectives, which involves building the knowledge and awareness of consular staff and MOFA actors on how to detect, deter, refer, and aid victims of trafficking (VoTs); providing concrete information and guidance on best practices to respond to and support effective evacuations and coordination efforts in crisis; initiating practical country-level efforts in the form of consular contingency plans.

Various topics were covered during the course of this two-day event, which includes: the role and responsibility of the consular department; implementation of bilateral cooperation agreement on Anti-Trafficking in Persons; law on Trafficking in Persons and Victim Identification; Assistance, Protection and Referral of VoTs; Existing plan for overseas missions; Safe and legal migration abroad; capacity building on safe migration for community. In addition, case studies and group work sessions were conducted for further details on aiding during times of crisis.

 

On the second day, Ms. Naruephon Boonyaban, Senior Programme Assistant of IOM Thailand, and Ms. Pemikar Lusananon, First Secretary, Department of Consular Affairs, MOFA Thailand, attended the workshop virtually to introduce the MICIC Guideline Vulnerability of Migrants in Crisis, roles and responsibilities of actors to support migrants in crisis, and experience from Thailand in developing Consular Contingency Plan, respectively.

As a result, this activity capacitated officials with the necessary skills on how to draft the Consular Contingency Plan, ways to respond to crisis as well as protect migrants working abroad, and provide the victims of human trafficking with timely assistance and protection.

In 2016, the Migrants in Countries in Crises (MICIC) Initiative was set up at the United Nations as part of the measures taken to ensure that the needs of migrants are addressed in crisis situations. This initiative is a set of voluntary, non-binding guidelines that enshrine the necessary considerations to improve the protection of migrants in countries experiencing conflict or natural disasters.

Following the establishment of the MCIC framework, IOM has partnered with both governments and non-governmental actors in the region to facilitate several capacity building and implementation activities. In September 2017, IOM held a roundtable on the MCIC Initiatives in Manila, Philippines. Subsequently, in 2018, a regional workshop was convened in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the evacuation of nationals abroad. The final regional workshop took place at Tokyo, Japan on 25-26 June 2019. 

For more information, please contact Karen HO at IOM Vientiane. Tel. + 856 (20)55 136 294. Email: kho@iom.int

  • Representatives from LWU, MOFA, MOPS, MOLSW, and IOM attended the meeting.

  • Through interactive group work, participants developed consular contingency plans.

  • Participants discussing how to support Lao nationals abroad in case of an emergency context