The Solomon Islands Government yesterday signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to enhance cooperation between the two parties on migration issues.

Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Barnabas Anga, who represented the government said the cooperation agreement will benefit Solomon Islands in terms of assistance programs focusing on the issue of migration.

The signing of the MOU is a further development to a previous agreement signed between the two parties in Australia earlier this year.

The previous MOU paves the way for a detailed study by Solomon Islands Immigration Authorities to provide input into relevant areas that will benefit the country.

Yesterday's MOU will also enable IOM to establish an office in Solomon Islands and to hire the necessary human resources.

Mr. Anga said the government has welcomed the initiative as Solomon Islands contemplate a growing economy for our people.

Once established the IOM Office will work closely with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labor and Immigration to offer expert advice, research, technical cooperation and operational assistance to the Government, non-governmental organizations and other stakeholders, in order to build national capacities and facilitate international, regional and bilateral cooperation on migration matters.

Mr. Anga said Solomon Islands should be proactive in its approaches as the country prepares for challenges relating to climate change, our economy and their related effects.

He noted migration issues facing Solomon Islanders living on the fringes of the Solomon Islands-PNG border as a classic example of practical issues that the government needs to address.

"I am confident that this Agreement will enable the Government and its stakeholders to effectively engage with the experts of IOM and other regional institutions to address challenges arising from border issues," Mr. Anga said.

Regional representative of IOM, Mark Getchell, said one of IOM's strategic priorities in the area of migration policy is to contribute to increased dialogue between migration stakeholders at bilateral, regional and global levels.

He said this strategic priority complements and enhances another of IOM's strategic priority, which is to strengthen governmental capacity to monitor and manage migration flows through effective policy making, policy dialogue, information sharing and cooperation.

Assistance programs that Solomon Islands is expected to benefit from includes:

1. Capacity Building and Institutional strengthening
2. Advisory services and technical cooperation on migration issues, migration information,
3. Counter-trafficking of people
4. Migration of nationals and non-nationals
5. Assistance to internally and externally displaced persons and other persons in need,
6. Return of qualified human resources and other assisted return activities
7. International migration law and
8. Migration and the environment

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