(L to R) Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia, Ambassador Shukria Barakzai Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to Norway and Mr. Anders Stenersen of Caritas Norway.
Oslo, Norway- The International Organization for Migration-Norway and the Norwegian Directorate for Immigration (UDI) lauded the Assistance to Nationals Program of the Philippines through the Philippine Embassy in Norway in a Seminar on Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration Cooperation with Embassies and Consulates last 19 October 2018 at the Hotel Continental Oslo.
Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia was invited to be a member of the panel on “Reaching Diaspora”. She shared how the Philippines approaches, evaluates, and handles challenges on issues concerning Filipinos, especially in Norway. Ambassador Batoon-Garcia shared the Philippine policy and legal framework of its Assistance to Nationals - a pillar of Philippine foreign policy. She explained the various efforts of the government in reaching the Filipino diaspora channelling their contributions towards national development and the Philippine Embassy in Oslo’s engagement with the Filipino communities, not only in Norway, but all of the Nordic countries through various activities and projects. The Ambassador also discussed the various mechanisms used in extending assistance to Filipinos in distress as mandated under the laws and policies of the Philippines such as the Migrant Workers’ Act, the Anti Trafficking in Persons Act and the Joint Manual of Operations in Providing Assistance to Migrant Workers and other Filipinos Overseas between the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine Department of Labor and Employment.
The UDI, through Mr. Knut Holm, lauded the efforts of the Philippines in maintaining contact and engaging the Filipino diaspora and the various programs of the Philippines under the ATN umbrella. He noted the best practices that Ambassador Batoon-Garcia discussed in the panel.
The seminar is an annual event of IOM and UDI where they engage the embassies and consulates accredited to Norway on various immigration issues. This year’s topic is on Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration, a program of IOM and UDI. The Voluntary Assisted Return Program or VARP is a return assistance program offered to asylum seekers and migrants without a legal right to stay in Norway. It aims to provide assistance to those planning to return voluntarily to their home countries in an organized, safe and dignified manner. The event was attended by representatives from the embassies and consulates accredited to Norway, IOM, Norwegian Directorate for Immigration, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Police Immigration Service and Caritas Norway. END