On 7 December 2021, the Border Management Programme in Central Asia (BOMCA) officially launched the implementation period of its 10th phase in Bishkek. The opening conference gathered over 100 participants representing donor institution, national counterparts, implementing consortium and international stakeholders, providing the floor for presentation of the goals, objectives and thematic priorities of the programme.
BOMCA is the long-lasting leading programme funded by the European Union. It has been playing a key role in strengthening cooperation between border control authorities through the concept of integrated border management, as well as in bringing border control in line with international and EU standards since 2003. The current 10th phase, is implemented by the consortium of border management institutions of selected EU member states and ICMPD, led by the State Border Guard of the Republic of Latvia. Started on 1 April 2021, the tenth phase is the largest initiative in the region with a total budget of EUR 21.65 million and implementation period of 54 months.
The main objective of the BOMCA 10 Programme is to enhance security, stability and sustainable growth in the region, while supporting cross-border cooperation and improving living conditions of people in the border areas of Central Asia. Geographically, the project covers all five countries of Central Asia. “The programme represents very well the spirit of the EU-Central Asia cooperation which aims to facilitate regional integration. The European Union considers that regional cooperation and integration offer the best tools for addressing common challenges and is instrumental in ensuring security and stability”, noted Ms. Terhi Hakala, EU Special Representative for Central Asia, in her welcoming speech.
Thematically, BOMCA 10 covers four components: institutional development of border management agencies, improvement of detection capacities, trade facilitation, and improvement of cross-border cooperation. Mr. Guntis Pujats, Chief of the State Border Guard of the Republic of Latvia, the BOMCA 10 Programme Leader, stressed that finding the right balance between the necessary border controls for ensuring border security and helping cut crime on the one hand and facilitation of legitimate travel and trade across the borders on the other is a great challenge. The national and international coordination and cooperation among all relevant authorities and agencies will help to reach the objective of open, but well-controlled and secure borders. The ICMPD Head of Region Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Mr. Radim Zak, delivering the key note on behalf of the ICMPD Director General, Mr. Michael Spindelegger noted that “the management of borders has always been both: a safeguard of security and an enabler of development.”
As of 2004 ICMPD has been closely involved in the implementation of the programme through facilitation of the thematic expertise and as of 2015 joined EU MSs in the implementing consortium of the 9th phase. Relying on its extensive thematic expertise in the area of migration and border management in various geographical regions, ICMPD has been entrusted to take a lead in the novel thematic component of the Programme’s 10th phase. It will support improvement of living conditions in border areas through local economic development with a focus on human rights, gender equality and vulnerable groups, targeting local authorities, civil society and non-governmental organisations.