March 27, 2013 Pohnpei, FSM -The first Migrant Resource Center (MRC) in the entire Pacific region was dedicated on the 26th of March at its Kolonia location in Pohnpei as a joint effort between the Federated States of Micronesia, the Pohnpei State Government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
In his remarks, Vice President Alik Alik thanked the IOM for its efforts in the FSM since establishing formal presence in 2008. He also acknowledged the dedicated staff at the IOM Office in Pohnpei under the lead of Mr. Ashley Carl who played vital roles in the vision to avail the MRC.
"With the opening of the MRC, we embark on yet another chapter on the FSM-IOM partnership. We accomplish another milestone in our relations that both FSM and IOM can be proud of", Vice President Alik said.
Signifying the value of the center to the IOM, Mr. Andrew Bruce, Bangkok-based IOM Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific came to Pohnpei for the ceremony, giving himself the opportunity to interact with the FSM-based IOM staff.
In his remarks, he explained that an allocation of $100,000 was provided under the IOM Development Fund for the establishment of the center, specifically to "advise citizens of the FSM who wish to migrate how they can do so safely".
According to Mr. Bruce, "upon becoming a member state, FSM became eligible to the technical assistance and migration management under the IOM Development fund - a fund set up specifically to assist members with economies in transition to address particular migration management challenges".
"The center will provide a number of core services to potential migrants, including pre-departure orientation training, awareness raising on the risks of human trafficking, referral to existing support services in their country of destination, and general information dissemination", Mr. Bruce highlighted, setting clear views on how the center would assist the various migration experiences the FSM citizens now encounter.
The IOM Regional Director also pointed out how the center is envisioned to facilitate integration for Micronesians who wish to reside in the United States; return from the US to their island of origin; and move from the FSM to United States and possibly to other countries such as Japan and Australia, particularly for education purposes. He also envisioned that the center could be utilized by migrants living in the FSM sometime in the future.
The US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission, Mr. Miguel Ordonez commented on the strong FSM-US relations reaching back to the Trust Territory era and stressed the need for collaboration to ensure the success of the center.
"We look forward to working very closely, I know the IOM office is right next to the US Embassy, so we're very close. We hope to collaborate and we are glad to provide any assistance we can now and in the future", Mr. Ordonez remarked.
The opening ceremony brought together a flock of high level attendants including the Governor of Pohnpei State, Mr. John Ehsa, Lt. Governor Marcello Petersen, Ambassador Eiichi Suzuki, Japan Embassy, Ambassador Martin Quinn of Australia, Cabinet members from that National and State governments as well as a number of civil society organization representatives. The FSM joined 148 other member states of the IOM on December 2011, which includes the Pacific nations of Vanuatu and Nauru.
Please feel free to drop into the Migrant Resource Center (MRC) located on the ground floor of the Central Building, opposite the Hyundai Dealership. You can also contact the MRC on (691) 320 8898.