Round-table discussion on Diaspora involvement in Somali refugees


A round table discussion was held on Wednesday 12th August, 2015, in SOMVOA in Amsterdam. The round table was organized by HIRDA and UNHCR representative. The purpose of the meeting was to generate ideas on how the Somali Diaspora can be involved in improving the conditions of Somali refugees. The meeting was moderated by Prof Dianna Shandy of Macalester College, United States. 

The objectives of the meeting were:

How is the Dutch Somali Diaspora already engaging with populations back in Somalia?
•Is the Diaspora already engaged with Somali refugees in the region outside Somalia (particularly Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Yemen)? If yes, in what ways?
•What more would you like to do/ be able to do for Somali refugees? What are the barriers/opportunities?
•What concrete things could UNHCR do to facilitate increased engagement?

The round table was part of the UNHCR Global Initiative on Somali Refugees (GISR) which was launched to rally regional and international efforts to come up with solutions for Somali refugees. In November, 2013 a High-Level Panel met and proposed a set of guiding principles.

The Addis Ababa Ministerial meeting brought together the six core states of the initiative, namely Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Yemen, as well as UNHCR, UNISOM, AU, IGAD, UNECA, to articulate a renewed commitment to Somali refugees, agree on common ground in the search for solutions for them and direct the international community towards these objectives. Stakeholder consultations will continue in the coming months to generate ideas for ways to put the Commitment into concrete action. The GISR will conclude in an international conference in 2015.

About 25 people attended the meeting from different NGOs like HIRDA, educational background and occupations. The attendees were asked to divide themselves according to where they can generate most ideas.  Ideas were generated according to 4 categories:

1.      Livelihood

2.      Education

3.      Health

4.      Other

Problems facing the refugees and the Diaspora in getting involved in solving refugee problems were discussed. Recommendations were forwarded.

At the end of the meeting forms were distributed among those who attended the meeting and were asked to fill them if they needed feedback on any information concerning the Somali refugees. Nothing concrete was promised from the ideas that were generated by those who attended, but everyone hopes conditions for the refugees will change for the better.

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