UN Helps Bhutan to Build Migration Management Capacity

IOM, in coordination with the UN Country Team (UNCT) in Bhutan, has completed a five-day capacity building programme for Bhutanese immigration officials on immigration and border management, focusing on passport examination procedures. 

The training of trainers, which was attended by 20 officials from the Department of Immigration’s headquarters, the international airport and regional immigration offices, was designed to enhance border security and strengthen capacities to detect document and identity frauds in order to combat irregular migration and transnational organized crime. 

Bhutan, a small Himalayan nation, hosts an estimated 52,300 migrants, many of them manual workers from India, who cross the border to work in Bhutan’s expanding construction sector. Other migrants come from China, Nepal and further afield, including the United States and Japan. In 2017 international migrants accounted for about 6.5 per cent of Bhutan’s 800,000-strong population. 

Growing numbers of young Bhutanese are now also travelling abroad – mainly for tertiary education. In 2017 Bhutanese emigration reached 44,000 with Nepal, India, Australia, Denmark and Netherlands among the top countries of destination. 

Bhutan’s Immigration Department is building its capacity to meet these changing migration patterns and the Thimphu training was the first in a series of planned IOM/UNCT initiatives. These will include a border and migration management assessment and other capacity building programmes to expedite regular mobility and enhance border security at key border crossing points.

According to IOM senior regional technical specialist Donato Colucci, who delivered the passport examination training, participating officials will cascade knowledge and skills to colleagues to detect altered and counterfeit passports, and imposters. The sessions included study of printing techniques, security features, biometrics and international standards of passports, he said.  

Trainees were familiarized with the most appropriate technical tools to support day-to-day passport examination activities. These included the use of a compact device comprising a UV light and magnifier to provide a detailed authenticity check of documents though identification of specific security features, he added.

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