August 21, 2012 (JUBA) - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Japanese government on Monday signed an agreement with South Sudan to mark the launch of a new initiative seeking to develop the young nation’s capacity to manage its borders.
- Japanese Ambassador Ryoichi Horie and Vincent Houver, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission shake hands after signing the agreement, August 20, 2012 ( Photo IOM).
The two-year deal, valued at US$5.4m, is anticipated to boost South Sudan’s efforts to effectively control its border regions, through the construction of 16 border posts, an immigration training academy in the country’s capital, and the development of a national training curriculum on border management.
South Sudan, which heavily relied on oil revenues to support its economy, has in recent months depended on taxes collected from border points, in the aftermath of its decision to shut down oil production early this year.
Oil revenues accounted for nearly 98 percent of South Sudan’s annual budget.
Vincent Houver, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission said the border management program will assist South Sudanese authorities to effectively handle the safe movement of persons and goods across borders.
“There is an urgent need to expand the presence of South Sudanese authorities and increase their skill sets and professionalism at key points along the country’s borders. The provision of equipment and appropriate specialized training will prove critical to assisting authorities in fulfilling their law enforcement function,” he said.
Since last year, IOM has been working with South Sudanese authorities to improve migration management, especially after the organization identified human trafficking and smuggling as the major problems the country faces within its border regions.
In 2011, the organization assisted South Sudan to install a passport registration and data collection system called ‘Personal Identification and Registration System’ (PIRS) at three land border posts, including one at Juba international airport.
The system, immigration officials say, has helped to detect cases of fraudulent passports and forged visas, commonly witnessed at the airport and South Sudan borders.
Also, IOM has to-date reportedly trained over 170 immigration and police personnel in the world’s youngest nation.
South Sudan, according to the IOM, inherited one of the weakest border and migration management regimes in Africa following its split from Sudan in July last year. However, with a border that extends over 4,800 km to at least six African countries, IOM anticipates that the two-year project will help South Sudan connect to these border posts, hence boost exchange of information.
“The new IOM project will connect all 19 border posts to allow for automated exchange of data and information about travellers,” said Houver.