IOM and the Government of Japan yesterday (20 August) signed an agreement to launch a new initiative to work with the Government of South Sudan to develop its capacity to police and manage its borders through the building of 16 border posts, the construction of an immigration training academy in Juba, and the development of a national training curriculum on border management.
The two-year, US$5.4 million programme, which is funded by Japan, will help South Sudan to manage border areas more effectively and improve national and regional security.
IOM has been working with South Sudanese authorities to improve migration management since the country’s independence in July 2011. The country suffers from human trafficking and smuggling problems that are endemic across the region.
IOM has already installed a passport registration and data collection system called ‘Personal Identification and Registration System’ (PIRS) at three land border posts and at Juba International Airport. It has also trained over 170 immigration and police personnel. A further 250 will be trained over the next year.
At the airport, immigration personnel now also use improved systems to detect cases of fraudulent passports and forged visas. A case of smuggling of migrants was also detected in July 2012 when six undocumented Somali migrants were discovered at the country’s border crossing point with Uganda, hiding in the back of a truck that was bound for Juba.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many irregular migrants use South Sudan as a migration route to North Africa, Southern Europe and other destinations.
South Sudan inherited one of the weakest border and migration management regimes in Africa after separating from Sudan. The new country’s borders extend over 4,800 km, with only 19 operational border posts located at entry points with the neighbouring countries of Ethiopia (7), Uganda (5), the DRC (4), the Central African Republic (2) and Kenya (1.)
The new IOM project will connect all 19 border posts to allow for automated exchange of data and information about travellers, according to IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission Vincent Houver.
“There is an urgent need to expand the presence of the South Sudanese authorities and increase their skills and professionalism at key points along the country’s borders. The equipment and training provided by this project will be critical in helping them to fulfil their law enforcement function, while facilitating the safe, dignified movement of people and goods across their borders,” he notes.