IOM, Tongan government representatives and partners at the launch of NAP. © The Asia Foundation  IOM Fiji Chief of Mission Solomon Kantha speaking at NAP launch. © The Asia Foundation  Tonga Deputy Prime Minister receiving the NAP from IOM staff Etsuko Inoue. © The Asia Foundation  IOM, Tongan government representatives and partners at the launch of NAP. © The Asia Foundation

Nukuʻalofa – The International Organization for Migration (IOM), together with the Asia Foundation and the Government of Tonga, launched on 20 November 2023 Tonga’s first National Action Plan to Counter Trafficking in Persons and Protect Vulnerable Migrants at the Fa’onelua Convention Centre. 

The Deputy Prime Minister, Mr Samiu Vaipulu, welcomed the National Action Plan, as it marks the commitment from the Government to actively addressing trafficking in persons, considering the large number of Tongan labour migrants involved in the seasonal worker schemes abroad. 

The National Action Plan envisions to build a just, humane and empowered society that protects people from all forms of trafficking and exploitation. 

Acknowledging the technical support from IOM and partners in drafting Tonga’s first National Action Plan, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ms Fekitamoeloa Katoa ‘Utoikamanu, highlighted its mission to facilitate partnerships between the Government and other stakeholders. “The National Action Plan aims to proactively prevent and combat all forms of trafficking, including supporting and protecting victims with a focus on the four main pillars encompassing prevention, protection, prosecution and partnership.”  

Tongans have been affected by natural hazards in the past recent years and became vulnerable for loss of livelihoods. IOM is supporting Member States to address human trafficking that exists due to vulnerabilities and displacement exacerbated by climate change and disasters in many countries. 

Attending the launch event, IOM Fiji Chief of Mission, Mr Solomon Kantha, emphasized the importance of having a national strategy and strong partnerships to combat trafficking in persons in Tonga and across the region. He further shed light on the need to strengthen domestic legislation that clearly defines all forms of trafficking. “IOM stands ready to support the Government of the Kingdom of Tonga in implementing the National Action Plan,“ said Kantha.  

“The impacts of climate-change-induced vulnerability to human trafficking cannot be addressed by one agency alone. Proactive solutions to create systemic change require a whole of government and whole of society approach which includes government, civil society and communities affected by this issue. With continued partnership and commitment from diverse voices, climate adaptations and anti-trafficking initiatives will emerge stronger,” Kantha added. 

The development of the National Action Plan is part of IOM’s Migrant Assistance and Protection in the Pacific project funded by IOM Development Fund. Covering Fiji, Tonga and Vanuatu, the project supported the Government of Tonga in the establishment of a National Technical Working Group (TWG) in 2021, aimed at enhancing multi-agency cooperation which included 13 government ministries and agencies, as well as IOM and the Asia Foundation. 

"The TWG is chaired by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of a broader framework of initiatives that bring together relevant agencies and seek to prevent exploitation and abuse”, said Telesia Kaitapu from the Immigration Department. 


For more information, please contact:

Lynette Sifa, Project Assistant, IOM Tonga, 

Venina Niumataiwalu, Project Coordinator, IOM Fiji,