Saturday June 4, 2016
By Abdulkadir M. Ga'al
I know that you are
fed up with the calls of international NGOs appealing to International
community for urgent humanitarian assistances to Somalia countless times. These appeals have become a repetitive and
endless cycle. But the reality on the ground is that there is a dire need of
emergency humanitarian assistances in forms of nutrition and food security,
shelter and protection as well as health care and water and sanitation in
Somalia. Therefore, it is crucial that necessary steps should be taken to save
the lives of the people in need.
crises erupt in Somalia, conventional agencies involved in humanitarian-aids used
to and still make huge impacts by providing assistances to the effected people
in Somalia. We, the Somali Diaspora appreciate and owe unlimited gratitude to
them for their tireless efforts and interventions.
But having lived in
Denmark for the last 18 years and being one of the active members of the Somali
Diaspora in Denmark, I had learned and realized that we can do a lot and
sometimes qualify and compliment when it comes to extending humanitarian
assistances to our fellow country men and women back home.
I can take a concrete
example - The drought exacerbated by El-Nino condition in March this year that
hit Somalia. The Somali Diaspora all over the world has been engaged themselves
in mobilizing and directing their focus to organize fundraising events and
sending money to the effected people in the areas where the drought hit
severely. These fundraising activities have been conducted regardless the areas
that one originates geographically, but just for the spirit of Somalism and
When it comes to
humanitarian assistances Diasporas are first-line responders and passionate to
make differences by quickly sending relief aid, money and volunteers directly
to affected communities and support local structures. Due to their ties and
networks in their country of origin, diasporas have access to knowledge of when
a crisis is about to occur, are able to assist during the crisis in areas with
limited access to conventional actors, and continue providing support as the
crisis stage moves to rehabilitation and recovery.
After the above
introduction, let me come to the point of my article regarding the first –ever World
Humanitarian Summit (WHS) held in Istanbul, Turkey 23-24 May 2016.
I would also like to
share with you my experiences, impressions and opinions from the summit and
then give you some room to reflect on the roles we, as Somali Diaspora can play
and how we can coordinate our efforts in terms of humanitarian assistances to
our people back home.
Global Consultation of World Humanitarian Summit
in Geneva 14-16 of May 2015
Prior to the summit in Istanbul 23-24 of May
2016, I had the opportunity to participate in the Global consultation of WHS
held in Geneva 14-16 October 2015 as Diaspora representative. In the
consultation forum together with a group of Diaspora from (Sierra Leone / UK),
(Syria / Germany) and (Somalia / Denmark), we got the opportunity to present
our engagement in humanitarian activities to the humanitarian world.
This possibility was
facilitated by the ECHO-funded DEMAC project (Diaspora Emergency Action and
Coordination), that advocated for Diaspora representation in the WHS
consultation processes and facilitated the development and submission of a Diaspora
DEMAC is a Consortium
that has three implementing partners: the African Foundation for Development
(AFFORD) in the UK, the Berghof Foundation in Germany, and the Danish Refugee
Council in Denmark. The implementing partners work with three Diaspora groups
in their countries: Somali Diaspora in Denmark, Sierra Leonean Diaspora in the
UK and Syrian Diaspora in Germany.
More about DEMAC
please read: www.demac.org and
After the Global Consultations, through the
facilitation of DEMAC the Diasporas met in a workshop specifically planned
towards participation in the WHS (in addition to other workshops conducted
within the framework of DEMAC on different topics to be discussed between Diaspora
and conventional humanitarian actors). In the Workshop we discussed and
formulated recommendations and commitments we as Diaspora would like to share
with the world leaders, conventional humanitarian actors, local NGOs, affected
people, private sectors and actors from civil society. Recommendations and
commitments were submitted to WHS's secretariat.
The World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in
Istanbul, Turkey 23-24 May 2016
The WHS was a two -day
summit and had two programs with separate schedules: Side events which didn't require pre-registration
and the main event with High level leader's roundtables and Special Sessions,
which required registration and tickets for attending.
The summit has put
many challenging issues on its agenda and commitments that needed to be
fulfilled by decision makers, the UN and its world partners. The ultimate goal
of the summit was transforming the commitments in the summit into concrete
The Diaspora team's
communication and coordination during the summit were well planned. We met
after the end of each session to brief and update each other, while having our
The Somali Diaspora
from Denmark had the honor to interact with and ask questions to the Secretary
General H.E. Ban Ki Moon on the pre-summit day, Sunday 22 May 2016.
Questions we asked
included our concerns about the Kenyan government's plan to close the Dadaab
refugee camp and the need for international humanitarian actors to recognize
the Diaspora engagements in humanitarian aids not as competitors but
Furthermore, we got an opportunity to
intermingle and talk with participants from different parts of the world
including some of the world leaders, representatives of conventional humanitarian
actors, private sectors, representatives of the effected people as well as
local NGOs and civil society representatives.
The DEMAC diaspora delegation had a good
exposure at the Summit with 5 delegates giving speeches at the Plenary
Sessions, to have our voices heard and our massages delivered.
Back from the summit,
I have very positive impressions and some remarks regarding my opinions and the
way forward for the Diaspora and conventional actors.
Diaspora engagements in humanitarian activities
and the way forward with conventional agencies
From this summit I
have learned that it is extremely important to have a common voice in order our
voices to be heard and our massages to be delivered.
To realize our voices
go through and reach to the decision making level of the humanitarian entities, we need to ensure
a unity and shared values as well as setting and striving for common goals.
I know that there is a long way to go and some
challenges ahead, but the vision can be realized in the years to come, if the
Diasporas work hard.
Nevertheless, I am optimistic
and can see a light at the end of the tunnel that there is a growing need for
establishing a strong organ or platform of Diaspora organizations representing
Diaspora communities involved in humanitarian and development activities living
in different parts of the world with different nationalities.
We can consider for
instance to start with by linking up ourselves with other Diaspora groups from
post conflict countries or the Diasporas from the war ravaged countries due to
the fact that we share more or less similar problems. Afterwards we can after a
series of discussions and contemplations hopefully come up with a model to work
Before doing this I
have to underline that Diasporas have to organize themselves to make sure that
they have some formalities and frameworks in place before going into
partnership with each other.
I believe that once
this powerful organ is set up and led by people with leadership capacity, Diaspora
organizations will soon be recognized as key and official partners in the
humanitarian and development areas. Not only be recognized as partners but they
will also have influences on decision making issues when it comes to
humanitarian and development related matters.
By - Abdulkadir M.
Ga'al, Copenhagen – Denmark
Employment Advisor at
the Municipality of Copenhagen
Advisory Board Member
of Diaspora Program.
He can be reached at [email protected]