16th Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference & Exhibition – DIHAD 2019

12-14 March 2019

Theme: “People on the Move; Causes, Consequences and the Way Forward”

Summary of Presentations


The Conference was opened with a minute of silence in commemoration of the victims of the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines flight on 10 March.
The focus of the Conference would be on bringing relief to the fate of the many victims of crises. DIHAD was being held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. The UAE’s leading role in the efforts to bring peace and security to the region was based on the lessons learned from the UAE’s Founding Father, H.H. Zayed, who 50 years ago showed how to lead in helping and giving love to others. The UAE had a great impact on societies in crisis and was leading the best way forward to help those suffering. For many of the victims and displaced, safety is the most important value. Over one million Syrian refugees are hosted in Jordan, and a delegation of the UAE Red Crescent authorities and DIHAD had visited the camp, which includes a clinic, projects in support of women, carpentry, blacksmithing and shops (see attached video).

H.E. Rashid Mubarak Al Mansouri, Deputy Secretary-General Local Affairs of the UAE Red Crescent, speaking on behalf of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President, United Arab Emirates Red Crescent Authority, thanked all participants for their presence at the DIHAD Conference, which has become a landmark in humanitarian action and development in the world. UAE exerts a major role in the social and ethical sphere in the region, creating the contour for the humanitarian and development response to crises in the world and the many challenges which humanity confronts. UAE ranks first in the world for the fifth year in a row in humanitarian assistance compared to its GDP, as indicated by the OECD. This is a clear proof of its global humanitarian message in which need is the only criteria in its effort to bring relief, linked to the migration and refugee crisis with implications for the victims. The focus is on those who flee conflict, repression and hunger, and are risking their lives to seek a better, safer and dignified life. The humanitarian and development sectors aim to prevent migration and all risks involved. He called on all international organisations to strengthen their response to the needs of people in crisis in the world to make a difference by bringing early response. The UAE has realised the implications of displacement through its support for education and by improving the living conditions of those affected to face the difficulties, and the protection of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) through its programmes and development of regional communities, in cooperation with all stakeholders, such as UNHCR and IOM. He hoped for the Conference to meet the aspirations in the humanitarian sphere and strengthen the principles and noble values of all, based on the position of the UAE Red Crescent in this major humanitarian event, for a better humanitarian and development aid future through better coordination, for which the Conference provides an important platform. (See video).


H.E. Mr. Antonio Vitorino, Director-General, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), thanked for the tribute to the victims of the tragic plane crash, which includes one female staff of IOM who was committed to a better humane world. The focus of the Conference is very timely as migration is at the top of many governments’ agendas, and it is challenging to find appropriate responses and a balanced public debate. Regional solidarity to those in need is the first and most important element of humanitarian response, which has become exceptional in recent years, in particular from the side of the UAE. But this solidarity also has its limits, as hosting countries have not been sufficiently supported in providing for the many millions of refugees and displaced persons. The needs of the vulnerable people on the move must be better supported, both in technical means and partnerships. He hoped for the Conference to contribute to this outcome, through partnerships with agencies and local actors for effective support on the ground. IOM works in close cooperation with UNHCR in response to crises such as Libya and Syria, and more recently the Venezuela crisis, to provide the full range of support as well as long term development and resilience for which we all need to adapt strategies and approaches to tackle the impact of environmental and climate change induced disasters, and instability caused by the scarce resources. Demographic change will lead to more instability. IOM wonders what the impact will be on future actions, the fulfilling of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), delivering services and enabling agencies to effectively meet needs. Increased mobility of people looking for a more humane and better world requires to resist the negative narrative and to focus on the essentials. IOM is building a reputation as an honest broker in the migration debate, to bring together the perspectives across the UN and non-state stakeholders to pursue a coherent and robust response to the challenges of the 21st world (see attachment).

H.E. Mr. Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), had to return to Geneva Headquarters due to the flight disaster. His statement was read out by Mr.  Amin Awad, Director, Middle East and North Africa Bureau, and Regional Coordinator, UNHCR.

While the issues surrounding refugees and migrants have become bitterly divisive in the world, DIHAD provides a good forum for an evidence-based debate with focus on practical solutions for the right way forward. As mentioned earlier, UNHCR closely cooperates with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to find practical solutions for refugees and migrants, for which the Global Compacts on Refugees and on Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) provide important and new arrangements for improved international cooperation.

The conditions of the IDPs in Syria, and refugees in the neighbouring countries face a daily struggle. The strain on host countries which have opened their doors and provided the refugees with care is of great concern. One quarter of the population of Lebanon are refugees from Syria and Palestine who are living in already impoverished urban areas. The people who have stayed behind in Syria are facing many challenges as even basic services are lacking. UNHCR is working closely with partners in adapting national laws that are now additional obstacles impeding on voluntary returns.

Besides the Syria crisis, crises continuing include those in Iraq, Myanmar, South Sudan, Yemen, and more recently Venezuela, all with overwhelming numbers of people affected by conflict. Out of a total of close to 70 million displaced persons, over 26 million are refugees, the highest numbers ever. They need a massive humanitarian response in which the IHC plays an important role. Host countries often are themselves facing great challenges of poverty, needing more support for which the Global Compact on Refugees foresees a comprehensive response model, including development actors and the private sector to build self-reliance and create jobs. The Emirati foundations and private sector play an important role, providing support through numerous initiatives aimed at improving the livelihoods through financial support as well as primary and higher education for Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries.

The Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration will hopefully benefit from the partnership of the United Arab Emirates to forge innovative ways towards the self-reliance of refugees and a better future, and the transformation of the global response to refugee crises. (See attachment)


Outline of the Conference Programme

H.E. Amb. Gerhard Putman-Cramer, Director, DIHAD International Scientific Advisory Board (DISAB), gave a brief overview of the programme which is composed of six panels, one half day special session, seven special presentations, and a closing address, followed by a brief summary and conclusions.

SESSION 1: “The Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration; how will they help?”


Professor Vincent Chetail, Director, Global Migration Centre, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva – Chair, introduced the two Global Compacts which lay down the framework of the response to the global displacement, and represent a system to counter populism and the challenges the world faces. He presented the Panel and their respective focus.

Dr. Michèle Klein Solomon, Director, Global Compact for Migration, IOM, Geneva, considered the GCM truly ground breaking. Genesis is the mass movement in 2015 when the UNSG called attention for protracted crises, which led to the convening of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016 to focus on refugees and migrants as spelled out in the New York Declaration of December 2015. Now there are 258 million international migrants (3.4% of the global population), including refugees for statistical purposes, but not including IDPs. Most migrants move through safe means and do not need to be dependent on international assistance, and the number of people on the move due to the impact of the degrading climatic situations is increasing. Out of the two initiatives came the two Compacts. The GCM provides a comprehensive 360 degree look at migration both from legal and financial perspectives. The Mantra comes from the 2015 Sustainable Development agenda as migration directly contributes to the development of many countries through the transfer of financial and human resources. The process leading up to the adoption of the GCM in Marrakech in December 2018, and endorsed by the UNGA with just five states opposing, was led by Member States and negotiated in widespread consultations. It is a non-binding international framework to define forced migration and foster cooperation with the private and civil sector as no state can act alone in responding to migration. A series of 23 core principles in the GCM puts people at the centre, recognising that different regions have different realities, including to create more regular migration patterns.

The next steps include for all states to develop national implementation plans with long-term objectives and to consider their focus and modalities for review mechanisms to keep the implementation moving forward. As part of the UN SG’s reform, a new UN migration network has been established, of which IOM is the coordinator and which involves many parts of the UN and international organisations. Now a comprehensive framework is setting the core context and a series of common objectives, but political will is needed to tackle one of the major phenomena of the 21st century, i.e. the movement of people needing effective national migration policies. Involvement in this important journey and exercise in human dignity was encouraged.

Ms. Grainne O’Hara, Director, Division of International Protection, UNHCR, Geneva, introduced the Global Compact on Refugees, and stressed the significance of both Compacts. Referring to the 1951 Convention on the Rights of Refugees, now the mass population movements are the trigger to address human mobility, it is acknowledged that migration must be approached from an inter-disciplinary dimension. Growing numbers of population movements were known, but the way of responding needed to be looked into through a development type lens and bringing assistance to forced human mobility. The real advantage is the link to development and the opportunities this brings. The two Compacts are closely linked but with distinct objectives, needing to be mutually supportive to be successful. The New York Declaration had in annex the Comprehensive Refugee Framework which led to the Comprehensive Framework for Refugees and the host countries, to develop refugees’ full potential through education and training. The entire basis is the temporary status in sharing burden with a future of resolving the refugee situation, e.g. through resettlement but also by allowing refugees to be of benefit to their host countries. Turning point with opportunities for all to build on the momentum of the two compacts and any other deal. The link to development and working through the private sector are critical. International protection is not just the legal part of UNHCR’s work but requires working with all partners to ensure the legal component in the link.

Concrete steps forward include: development of the three-year strategy on resettlement and complementary partnerships; (resettlement is down in numbers while needs are growing); asylum capacity support group – helping states to improve domestic capacity to determine who is refugee and who is not; further development of the academic network – drawing on wide resources – to open up research on forced movement in field research in the broader context of responses. Future directions include a global forum on refugees with co-hosting / sponsoring states to be held in Geneva in December, to which also the private sector will be invited, with support regional platforms to move forward. The December forum will aim at pledges not only for financial support but in particular across the board such as academic research, more resettlement places, technical or in-kind support such as capacity building or mentoring. Recognising the considerable potential of DIHAD with possibilities for new partnerships, it is also important to recognise the reason for the two Compacts to allow more regulated travel which is the positive aspect, but importantly the forced migration for which the wider range of International Organisations must be involved to benefit the protection regime and not at the expense of the human rights of all people on the move. Close cooperation with all partners is needed through the newly established Migration Network to which UNHCR will second capacity. “Only by working together can we make a difference to refugees and migrants.”

Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), addressed the issue of IDPs not covered by either Compact but by the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. In view of the importance of bringing attention to all people on the move, the panel on the continuum of protection and solutions for all forcibly displaced is relevant.

She focused on three key aspects:

1) To address root causes of displacement to support solutions to prevent trans-border displacement, as there are far more IDPs than refugees, not including natural disasters and other environmental events, as root causes for movement.

Member States and their partners also contribute to large migration flows; Objectives of the GCM and 4 of the GCR aim at creating conditions in the country of origin to remove obstacles to return and integration.

Political and security cooperation is key to avoid and solve protracted displacement as now 20 to 27 years is the duration of most internal displacement, a lost generation. The Agenda 2030 and SDGs’ “leaving no one behind” logo refers also to IDPs. Ensuring host communities and IDPs are responded to in line with their human rights

2) The Global Compacts’ approaches are also applicable to IDP situations, in particular their key focus: governmental leadership and ownership are key; close interaction between humanitarian and development actors including mobilisation of predictable national responses and aligning with the 2030 agenda; involvement of IDPs and the target population in relevant decision making as well as broad multi- stakeholder initiatives, including the local population and academia who are often first responders. Engagement at all levels is at the core of continuing support, essentially based on needs and rights of IDPs.

3) GP20 – the 20th anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement- The GP 20 Plan of Action 2018-2020: The 2017 GA-resolution calls on states to refer to the “GP 20 Plan of Action 2018-2020” which is closely linked to the AU Kampala Convention, and is a useful framework for all stakeholders to provide adequate support, primarily at national and local levels with sharing of experiences and means to provide a useful network. It feeds into the High Level Panel on Internal Displacement on priorities which include the principle to involve IDPs and local populations; national frameworks to prevent and address internal displacement to be created on the basis of the GPs; enhancing statistics; and addressing protracted displacement through effective resolutions for IDPs.

The Steering Group composed of states is expanding with now 13 members with over 30 focal points in IDP countries: it is a platform for the exchange of good practices and multi stakeholder participation.

The resolve of the international community to provide responses to people on the move and for migration to become voluntary rather than acts of desperation is what is ultimately hoped for. (See attachment).


Before opening the floor, the Chair pointed out that the two Compacts are comprehensive on migration and development, addressing the root causes of migration and seeing it as a tool for development of countries of destination. They are both resulting from a consultative process, and are action oriented on measures to be taken at all levels and on the follow-up process to ensure ideas are taken seriously and implemented as a roadmap. Three approaches apply to both: evidence based information, inclusive dialogue with migrants and refugees as partners, and the rule of law.

From the floor:

The notion of the migration hump theory of not needing development assistance deserves more explanation – the concept of the refugees “in a fridge” facing too many obstacles for their return which need to be addressed before they can return.

It is important to see more the true reasons for mass movement in economic areas; to engage with civil society in the dialogue and not exclusively deal with governments, and to tackle the realities of migration.

Engagement with civil society and the private sector as a service provider needs to be increased.

Need for more awareness of the real issues for the Global Compact with regard to Sudan where at least ten million people are on the move, be it refugees, IDPs or migrants. Need to move from verbal pledges to concrete actions in close link with push factors which up to mid 90s were mainly economic but now include climate change as 70-80% of the population are farmers. Conflicts, embargoes and sanctions are in particular affecting the educated youth with lack of employment opportunities who then seek to migrate legally. Europe must help to find a solution to the migration problem to avoid it resulting in over 250 million migrants.

Panelists responded that public estimates are much higher than the reality, mostly motivated by fear of loss of jobs; on the migration hump theory, there is not enough reason not to invest in development, because when people have improved economies and opportunities they are less compelled to migrate as lack of security often is the compelling reason for moving. The private sector needs to be more involved in the implementation of the objectives of both Global Compacts, which is insufficiently spelled out in the texts. The issue of shrinking and aging populations in the western world versus the growth of the youth population in Africa must be taken seriously.

Focus must remain on solutions for the growing size of migration while voluntary repatriation remains limited as long as conditions are not in place beforehand. States have a fundamental political role and the Security Council has a role in conflict resolution in which civil society plays an increasing role. It is important for states to take nationally the responsibility for the drivers of forced movement in collaboration with other sectors and development actors.


Keynote address: “Education in emergencies as a strategic investment in the future: tackling the education gap between displacements and formal schooling.”

H.E. Mr. Christos Stylianides, European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management

The Commissioner expressed a feeling of fresh passion and energy for the cause of DIHAD and why it has grown into a human voice, bringing the humanitarian family from around the globe together. He was excited to be speaking about his personal passion, his “positive obsession”, which is Education in Emergencies. It is far more than a political priority as it is a moral duty for all. UAE’s commitment to education is large through its support to the Education Cannot Wait initiative, increased funding and programmes, including support from Dubai Cares. Back in 2014, he perceived the lack of education in emergencies as a critical gap in the traditional approach to humanitarian needs which he decided to change as education is the most chronically underfunded sector in emergencies while for 75 million children in 35 countries in crisis their education disrupted.

Education is a fundamental human right and as vital as food, shelter and health care as it can transform children’s lives and provide a sense of normality by ensuring continuity in their learning process; it acts as a protective shield against radicalisation, forced recruitment or early marriage, exploitation and abuse, and forced labour. The EU has stepped up investments since 2015 from 1% to 10% of the humanitarian budget, way above the global average of 3% funding. More than € 300 million has been invested in 54 countries for six million children and teachers, many of whom are displaced, unaccompanied, in hard to reach areas or have disabilities. Girls are the most vulnerable, mostly to SGBV, and gender is an important factor in EU funded programmes. Several large country-based programmes, e.g. the Conditional Cash Transfer for Education for Syrian refugees in Turkey, and the “INCLUDE” initiative in Uganda, are closing the gaps between hosts and refugee children through accelerated education. The programmes also teach in tolerance, peace and reconciliation rather.

Five priorities for education in emergencies have been defined:

To give children access to schooling within three months from the start of a crisis; protect education itself, safeguarding teachers, children and buildings; provide comprehensive, high quality education, including psychosocial support, language adaptation, professional development of refugee teachers, such as through distance learning; connecting the humanitarian / development silos through the “Global Partnership for Education”, and the “Education Cannot Wait” initiatives, and linking  different funding channels to generate €1.4 billion; and to build a global funding model with joint planning between donors, humanitarian partners and the private sector.

EU has become a true champion of education in emergencies, but much remains to be done, and the EU is determined to make this happen as it is a human right and basic need. Investing in education is investing in the future for all, in peace, bringing hope and prospects for children. (See attachment)


SESSION 2: “People on the move; integration and opportunities”

H.E. Mr. Philippe Lazzarini, Deputy Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, Beirut, Chair, set the scene for the panel which would bring a positive angle to the issue of migration. While the majority of migrants are moving for economic reasons, many are forcibly displaced. Migration is one of most complex phenomena of these times, in particular in regard to the integration in their new places of living. Success stories include that in 2015 USD 7 trillion or 10% of global GDP was contributed by migrants. Over ten percent of all migrants globally are hosted in six Gulf States with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as the fourth and fifth largest destination countries in the world. In 2015 Germany hosted over one million migrants, assuming its economy needed an influx of manpower. In Pakistan, legal Afghan refugees now can open bank accounts, thus allowing them to contribute to the host economy. Nevertheless, the debate on the importance of migration is increasingly viewing migrants as a burden on the host countries.

Lebanon, with over one million refugees, sees now anxiety turning into frustration and a feeling that integration is a red light and a feeling of host community fatigue. A recent World Bank analysis on movement of displaced Syrians shows that refugees still want to return if conditions are right. Around 300,000 Angolan refugees as well as many Afghan and South Sudanese have returned. The discussions on migration are often motivated by fear, while economic migration will continue. So, the debate must be moved from managing threat to opening opportunities and building bridges rather than walls. It is a call for caution and the need to understand fear as a trigger for migration. Both Global Compacts present a new way forward with a more equitable system for responsibility sharing, recognising the need for more stakeholder involvement for better support to manage and integrate refugees. It is a crisis of solidarity and not only of numbers. Most refugees are hosted in developing countries which urgently need more support. Obstacles to integration need to be overcome to avoid destabilisation of the region. It is important to focus on opportunities and the fact that better integration helps future economic development and the goals of Agenda 2030. (See attachment)

Mr. Dominique Burgeon, Director, Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Rome, focused on the positive contribution from forced migrants and refugees on their host countries and communities. Conflict and hunger are contributing to SDG-2 and a reversal in the number of people in food insecurity, including acute food insecurity, often the major drivers of the migration increase to over 68 million in 2018. The largest outflows originate from countries with conflicts where 80% of the population depend on agriculture; eight out of ten people on the move have been displaced more than ten years, and four out of ten more than 20 years. Agriculture and resilient livelihood investments have a clear impact on displacement and provide pathways to a better future for both the displaced and the host communities. In Syria, the repeated droughts in 2011 were not properly addressed and triggered displacement, while FAO found that 94% of farmers would not have moved if sufficient investments in resilient livelihood were made. Pastoralists in Somalia losing their livelihoods moved to camps. When at the time of a next disaster the need for investment in agriculture was met, displacement was less. There is a need for evidence and analysis to better understand the capacities and vulnerabilities of the host and the refugee community.  This requires inter-agency cooperation to better understand the needs as well as more participatory planning, in particular for women and children and other vulnerable members of the community.

Examples include Dimitra clubs, created to improve livelihood through gender equality, and now provide support for 1.6 million people.

Skills training for Syrian refugees in Turkey and Jordan is provided by linking the need of the labour market and providing cash assistance for vulnerable families.  This kind of projects can be successful by boosting the local economy when responding to the needs of the market. It is important to support both the refugee as well as the host communities.

FAO is a partner in the SAFE initiative which is a ccombination of multi-sectoral interventions needed to address environmental impacts of large-scale population movements, such as in Bangladesh. (See attachment)

H.R.H. Princess Tatiana of Greece and Denmark, Vice-President Business Development, The Lemon Tree Trust, shared how the organisation can realise the vision to bring gardening to people in conflict to promote self-determination and dignity as well as economic and social change. The initiative is about bringing joy to people in crisis in their everyday life, and this way of working is different from many agencies providing lifesaving aid in refugee crises. The project tries to fill in the spaces by helping communities to build themselves from the ground up through gardening, bringing also food security and independence. The organisation is now active in Northern Iraq. As people were already gardening, a competition was held in 2015 in one camp, Domiz Camp, with 50 entries which has grown to seven camps with over 1,500 entries in 2019. The initiative is completely community run, with a deep-rooted impact on the wellbeing and mental health, and providing a sense of purpose and hope. An area of the camp has been developed into The Liberation Garden, an example of a safe space for families. Women’s resilience in times of trauma is an asset for organisations working with refugees. Over 95,000 plants have been cultivated and distributed in the last three years. The mission to provide simple ways to support refugees through gardens will continue to bring gardens to all refugee camps to bring hope to those living in desperate situations. (See attachment + video)

Dr. Hanna Kaade, General Surgery Resident Doctor, Luebben, Germany; Associate, Learning Strategies International and Former Public Health Technical Officer, WHO Aleppo, Syria, shared his personal experience as a displaced person in Aleppo as well as his residency with WHO, but also his integration in Berlin during his residency in surgery. With regard to the Syrians on the move, 13.1 million are in need of humanitarian aid, more than half of the population. They include 6.6 million IDPs, often forced to move several times, and 5.6 million refugees.

His experience is that IDPs in need often felt ashamed to receive assistance and their dignity touched, and often did not accept to be accounted as an IDP. Integration was easier than for refugees. IDPs within their own living space, which is now reduced by the danger for security threats.

He moved to Germany to continue studies, to a new life with challenges of a new language and of new surroundings. He was fully motivated and excited and went out of own choice and not by force as is the case for so many migrants. Integration is key for displaced and refugees, bringing “things” together which is a challenge if it is not by motivation. Many refugees need help to want to integrate by showing how opportunities can be found, but the link to follow up with them is mostly lacking. This in turn means opportunities are not being taken. (See attachment)


From the floor:

Integration of international migrants is a huge challenge, while reintegration requires a role of the hosting governments. With now 40 million IDPs in Africa alone, a focus on root causes of displacement is needed.

Livelihood in agriculture is possible if all move back to their places of origin. The issues of motivation and psychological mind set of those seeking future, and challenge of integration are relevant.

How to scale the response from both institutional as well as grass roots perspectives on the question of motivation? Minister of Happiness in the UAE aims to achieve a strong workforce, developing economic opportunities in response to wishes. It is important to link to people needing opportunities and providing opportunities themselves, in which motivation is key. Response must be made more adjusted and diversified “to build back better” and create income generating opportunities. The impact of climate extremes needs to be taken into account and adaptation to climate change in humanitarian programmes must be promoted.

Hidden reasons why integration is not working are not clearly analysed, even if those newly arrived want to integrate. Integration needs to be adjusted and is not a panacea for all situations.

The more protracted a situation is, the more fatigue sets in both from the donor and the host communities.


SESSION 3: “People on the move, causes and consequences”


Mr. Amin Awad, Director, Middle East and North Africa Bureau and Regional Refugee Coordinator, UNHCR – Chair, introduced the panel and referred to DIHAD as a multi-disciplinary forum for dialogue on key humanitarian issues. Through innovative and forward-looking forums like this, important issues can be brought forward as these are unavoidably becoming political issues. Now 70 million people are displaced, of whom about half in the MENA area, a true crossroad.

This area faces key challenges with 7.7 million refugees, around 13 million IDPs, and those who stayed behind being in dire need of assistance. The most devastative conflicts include Yemen with over 22 million in need of humanitarian aid, Syria with over six million IDPs and close to six million refugees, and parts of Iraq facing security and protection challenges. Refugees and migrants can have a positive impact on society at large in their new communities. As the nature of conflicts evolving and the causes are different, the population impacted is also going through different circumstances. The level of solidarity and compassion in the region is impressive, the willingness to receive people and allowing them to live in dignity, until they can return in safety and dignity is critical and refers in particular to Syria, Libya, Nigeria, and pockets in Algeria and Mauretania. Mixed migration takes place from Sub Saharan Africa, Afghanistan and Bangladesh with a high level of involvement of human traffickers and groups that deal with arms and drugs trafficking, and terrorists, constantly changing formation and technology. International response should address this issue as one of the top items on the agenda of these times to mitigate risks and control the flows. This requires some innovative approaches. (See attachment)

Ms. Delphine Moralis, Secretary-General, Terre des Hommes International Federation, gave her perspective on this issue and what the Organisation does to address it. Of the 13.4 million IDPs in the region, 5.5 million are children. Children are affected by conflict, abuse and child labour, while violence puts children at extreme risks of death, school abandonment, early marriage, and recruitment. The agency’s focus is mostly on prevention of violence by identification of vulnerable children and their families.

Activities include formal and non-formal education, reintegration in schools, supplies, and advice for registration. The ‘Back to the future” programme in Lebanon and Jordan with partners has so far helped 19,000 children. Teaching staff is under constant strain as children have faced war and violence and are in need of professional psychosocial support.

The programme is also improving resilience and has so far benefitted 7,000 children through games, sports and arts, assisting both hosts and guests to integrate and better understand each other.

With regard to advocacy for child rights, it is difficult in conflict to focus on protection of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, non-recruitment, safe access for humanitarian actors and aid workers. The two Compacts support the work for the rights of children on the move, an increasingly complicated task due to the lack of investment on children and the reluctance of EU countries, making many children victims of trafficking. The Organisation uses campaigns and co-chairs with Save the Children initiatives on the rights of children and their protection, with six main recommendations for non-discrimination and access to service and sustainability of their support.

It is important to involve children and youth and empower them as they make up one third of the total population on the move. Not involving them leads to problems if their needs and hopes are not enough responded to. It is crucial to listen to them, to see how they can make a change on issues such as climate change.

Mr. Mario Stephan, Executive Director, Médecins sans Frontières (MSF), UAE Regional Office, believed that the current migration needs to be addressed in view of the need for protection and other support. Some migrants are trapped in legal limbo, lack of attention, or the brutality and abuse by traffickers. In the MENA Region such inhumane policies do not stop people on the move, but make women and children more vulnerable and subject to extreme violence and extortion. Therefore, forcible return should not take place under these conditions.

Priorities are changing and adopting to developing conflicts, but for MSF the priorities to help people remain unchanged to make sure nobody will fall between the cracks. People have to choose between violence at home and danger during transit with sexual abuse, intentional trauma or physical injuries. MSF has had to adapt its approach to save lives in different ways, including caring for mental health, but has often been forced to abandon its operations to rescue migrants from drowning in the Mediterranean Sea, thus being forced to leave people in need behind.

Displacement is not new but to address it there is a need to understand how people in transit countries fit in their new societies, how host communities cope with the new migrants, or what complementary services can be provided, sometimes besides development and local actors. Actions organised by ordinary citizens to reduce suffering of displaced people are good signs. It is important to work collectively and humanely. (See attachment)

Mr. Ian Ridley, Head of Office, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Afghanistan, iterated that root causes are changing. In Afghanistan over one third of the population are displaced by a mixture of conflict and natural disasters. Their reason for return is either an end to the rains, or for others an end to the conflict. Many of the youth move for economic reasons to gain income for their families. Priority needs often range from basic needs such as shelter to longer term needs such as education. Addressing root causes is not purely in the scope of humanitarian action, and requires to better link all pillars of international response in cases of changing needs and to be more agile and nimble in addressing the underlying reasons.

One way of doing this is by examining the nexus and challenges of parts of the system to avoid that humanitarians are expected to do more and more, and by insisting that donors provide early funding as every dollar spent on preparation saves many more. Interaction with communities is a great privilege but also a great challenge. Direct participation of the population in needs assessments as well as perception surveys for the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) has been important to ensure population’s needs are responded to in the Humanitarian Response Plan.

A toll-free phone helpline – AWAS – has been set up, complementing face to face interaction connecting people affected by conflict and providing guidance how and where to receive assistance. Since May 2018, over 46,000 calls have been handled, many around primary needs of food, shelter and cash. Trauma – and mental health care has shown a 46% increase in casualties from suicide attacks, and 39% increase resulting from air attacks. Over 85,000 trauma related consultations have been held in 2018 with amputations as a growing burden as better trauma care is not matched by post-operative physiotherapy, resulting frequently in permanent disabilities.

The ways to adapt to the needs include enhanced physical and mental trauma care, promoting job opportunities, providing livelihood assets for those affected by natural disasters, and an agile response from the development community. The humanitarian landscape is changed and humanitarian assistance is often used as leverage, with attacks on aid workers with 105 abductions and a number of serious injuries in the last year. The anti-terror legislation does not make aid workers immune to these threats.


From the floor:

What is the best humanitarian and development mechanism for the promotion of the rights of the child? What is the impact of the negotiations with opposing forces such as the Taliban on those displaced by conflict? The health aspect, particularly HIV/AIDS, of people on the move must be tackled as they often are discriminated against while one in 15 of them are affected.

Emergency education in Afghanistan for 3.5 million out of school children requires a linkage between humanitarian and development actors. While increasing casualties are of concern for the whole population, how can an international conference on humanitarian aid bring a solution?

In EU countries alone 20,000 displaced children are missing, many of them having fallen in the hands of traffickers. Therefore, there is a need to certify children in their new destinations.


Keynote address: “Humanitarian responses to forced displacement and migration”

H.E. Professor Gilles Carbonnier, Vice-President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva

Speaker shared his own and ICRC’s perspectives on migratory flows which have a truly global reach and are affecting all parts of society. In the UAE this is no exception, and the Government’s decision to issue residency visa and provide financial support to refugees illustrates the importance of its humanitarian response to suffering.

Policy responses aimed at containing migration have had negative results. The Red Cross and Red Crescent movement has adopted a broad approach with a focus on needs rather than legal status of uprooted people.

With regard to causes and consequences of displacement, 250 million people now live outside their home country, of whom close to 70 million have been forcibly displaced, both as refugees and as internally displaced persons (IDPs). The causes of migration include economic stress, lack of employment opportunities or basic services, or the wish for family reunification, to which pressures from climate change are increasingly added. The Middle East region produces and hosts most displaced, notably from the Syrian conflict. Millions of Iraqis remain refugees and internally displaced, lacking basic services and infrastructure. More than 80% of the population in Yemen needs some form of humanitarian assistance, while the country still hosts many Somali refugees. In Central America and Venezuela also hazards along migratory routes exist. Migrants can become highly vulnerable along their journey, some being detained due to lack of proper legal documentation.

The ICRC policy does not encourage or discourage migration but focuses on assisting and protecting vulnerable migrants, while promoting respect for International Humanitarian Law to prevent people having to leave their homes in the first place. It responds to the needs of host and migrant communities, which requires collaboration with other agencies and States in compliance with human rights laws. The Movement works on family tracing and reunion as well as visits to migrants in detention, and contributes to enhancing coordination with governments to uphold human dignity and human suffering.

The ICRC has been actively involved in negotiations leading to adoption of the GCR – GCM, but commitments now need to be put into practice through a collaborative approach, aimed at a balance between reaching objectives and not adhering to narrow approaches. It is important to never lose sight of the dire consequences for migrants and to work hand in hand with all concerned to make a vital difference for those in the Middle East and beyond who are forced to flee their homes. (See attachment)


SESSION 4: “People on the move and security; what are the issues?”


Dr. Khalid Koser, Executive Director, Global Community Engagement and Resilience Fund, Geneva – Chair – stated that the idea that migration is posing a threat to communities’ welfare and other misperceptions, such as that migrants may pose not only national but also human security threats, are leading to dangerous results. The literature on the link with the misperception that migration puts a threat to society shows little evidence that this is the case, but it is important to discuss whether mass migration may challenge and overwhelm social and health services.

On this intersection between migration and security versus mobility and violent extremism exist seven assumptions: most people migrate to escape violent extremism; the risk in certain camp settings of anger and frustration and possibly radicalisation must be understood; the notion that migration flows are infiltrated by smugglers requires a proportionate response; the troubled question of integration, in particular in European societies leading migrants to leave again whereas in reality almost all have settled successfully; growing flows in Europe risking generating public extremist responses; and challenges of premature return risking meeting violence. It is a must to see migration as an opportunity, e.g. USD 450 billion being put back into the countries of origin. It is important to ensure basic principles, of human rights of which migration is one, are not being abandoned.

Ms. Valerie Leon, Researcher / Training Coordinator and Evaluator, Groupe URD, France – did recent research work on migration flows, which exposed some tensions between the objectives of humanitarian aid and protection with the imperative of security. Several multi-cultural field operations both along the route of migrants and in host countries in Europe were researched, and an evaluation of aid cooperation in the Horn of Africa with support from national authorities in migration management and meeting protection needs was also recently carried out. The findings point at the shrinking humanitarian space and the solidarity from civil society.

Migration is explained by multi-dimensional dynamics, sometimes involving economic marginalisation and political issues. Protection needs of mixed migration with the whole spectrum of people exiled from society, including irregular migrants, unaccompanied minors and victims of trafficking, are to be diversified.

The fight against terrorism at a global scale influences perceptions of population movements and increasingly leads to how population movements are perceived with regard to security. The security of people on the move is multi-risk, e.g. human rights violations along the journey, while the perspective of a state is about integrity of its territory, but the security of the society must include all perspectives, including good governance. A broader notion of security is human security, putting the population at the centre. Potential tensions exist in particular for transit societies between the respect for basic human rights and the application of border and migration management policies, e.g. in Europe and Africa. Global warming, piracy and terrorism also put real threats and lead to migration. In the Horn of Africa, it is difficult for border guards to protect and control border areas, and to distinguish between overlapping categories of good and bad travellers.

A large part of humanitarian needs remains uncovered for migrants and the margins of actions are under strong pressure in Europe. Where solidarity actors in France were harassed by police, this represents the crime of solidarity, and the tension between the rights of states to security and solidarity of its people.

Mr. Karzan Noori Othman, Head of Programs and Public Relations, Barzani Charity Foundation, Erbil, Iraq, iterated that people move with high expectations, often leading to confusion between original values and those of the host society. He reminded that still 1.4 million people displaced in Iraq live in 38 camp settings in the Kurdistan Region and receive public services. The social cohesion of the country is in danger, in particular of the Yezidis with kidnapping and forced migration, but also of Christians, which has led to a dramatic decrease since 1950 from 12% to less than 1% of the population.

There is a danger of emigration of minorities serving the agendas of the extremists and of vanishing values of culture and language, whereas they were coexisting peacefully before in the country and as they are still now in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Some concrete recommendations for the way forward include that innovative solutions must go beyond just meeting basic humanitarian needs by countering violent extremism, investing in economic growth for host communities through public-private partnerships, and supporting the population in their places of origin rather than outside their country of origin. (See attachment)

Ms. Fairuz Taqi Eddin, Director of partnerships of Jordan River Foundation, Amman, focused on empowering vulnerable communities in which children are the central approach. The Syrian crisis has become a protracted humanitarian and protection crisis, as 80% of the refugees in Jordan live outside camps. The community empowerment pillar of the work of the Foundation is both for refugees and host communities through sustaining livelihoods by training and mentorship, start of micro-businesses, and awareness creation of the legal procedures for employment. It reduces social tension between Syrian refugees and host communities fearing job competition.

The child protection pillar focuses at child wellbeing and safety through intervention with case management, psycho-social services, a helpline to report cases of abuse, and prevention with better parenting, youth and women empowerment. This leads to social cohesion, and a decrease in child violence and abuse.

The social enterprise programme producing home decoration supplies is leading to integration of Syrian female refugees and vulnerable Jordanian women in the labour market. It is partnering with IKEA for products supplied in the US, Europe and several places in the Middle East.

The outcomes are a sustainable increase in household income, improved family and individual self-reliance as well as social cohesion in host communities. (See attachment)


From the floor:

As the various stages in movement represent different challenges in security, the question is whether security is related to the level of integration in the hosting society. (No clear evidence of correlation is available thus far).

Is there a link between corruption and assistance to reach vulnerable IDPs? (For some programmes corruption is a challenge for which agencies have to instate strict criteria.

Do agencies taking proactive action consider that migration is there to stay? (Migration and internal displacement are symptoms that something has gone wrong, which often is a delay in action, while uncertainty in the place of origin limits or at least delays repatriation.)

The challenge of securitisation of migration and balancing with the State’s response; importance of empowering people of concern was mentioned.


Keynote address: “The Primacy of Preserving Dignity; No Human Being is Illegal”

H.E. Mr. Francesco Rocca, President, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

From his own perspective on the current challenges of migration, this is an important phenomenon that will go on for many years to come. It is not a humanitarian emergency as such as it is not occurring suddenly, but it needs a long-term approach. The GCM is an opportunity to protect the lives of those on the move as too many people are dying during the journey. As adoption of the GCM was only a first step, it is now becoming time to focus on the implementation of its commitments and see whether it has already shown improvements. Suffering, exploitation and human trafficking are constantly threatening migrants. Support for basic needs but more importantly with information about opportunities, legal status and how to get support for vulnerable migrants is critical. The “Alone and not safe” report of December 2018 shows an increasing number of unaccompanied minors at high risk of abuse and recruitment, and a system to prevent this must be put in place. There is a need for a multilateral approach rather than a short-sighted approach by closing borders or stopping migrants from entering.

The IFRC has set up safe spaces and information points in a number of countries, but there is a noticeable hesitation of migrants to ask for help out of fear to be detained or returned. A global approach is needed, giving access to basic needs rather than the current world of growing fears and barriers, resulting in more trafficking and illegal moves.

The world sees now the deeply worrying criminalisation of migration as well as of humanitarian actors trying to save migrants like those in the Mediterranean region. When the role of independent humanitarian actors is questioned, our democracy is at risk, a sad and dangerous development. It is time for humanitarians to stand up for those hidden from society and to help to protect them. (See attachment)


SPECIAL SESSION: “People on the move and the SDGs”


Dr. Mukesh Kapila, Professor of Global Health and Humanitarian Affairs, University of Manchester; Executive Director, Defeat – NCD Partnership, Geneva – Chair – reminded the audience that movement of people has always taken place, often forced to do so. He tried for the panel to focus on the positive aspects and impact of migration. Marginalisation of migrants or refugees in their new countries is worrisome. The number of migrants is increasing and reached 224 million in 2018. But as a proportion of the global population it stayed at 3% over the past forty years. About 25 million people are forcibly displaced and many end up in camps waiting for resettlement or return home. Many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) aim at improving the living conditions of those trapped in this transitional phase. (See attachment)

Migration is often driven by a lack of opportunities in the home country, but it can also be an effective poverty-reduction tool for the countries of origin as well transit and host countries. It can have an overwhelmingly positive outcome and bring about great economic, social and cultural richness.

Several goals of the 2030 Agenda for SDGs call for facilitation of safe, regular and responsible migration and implementation of well-managed migration policies. The positive benefits of migration can be overshadowed when access to basic services is denied in cases of large or sudden migration flows which can disrupt education and health systems and cause tensions in host communities. On the other hand, giving access to education and training can result in improved livelihoods, health outcomes, and gender equity, and thus in achieving a number of SDGs.

But to get there, close cooperation is needed between Member States, the UN system, the corporate and academic sector as well as the media. The SDGs can help to find a balance between the opportunity given to migrants at the same time as to the host communities in order to counter fear and paranoia that breed intolerance, discrimination and even greater insecurity.

It is time to change the narrative and bring back the dignity and humanity to the people on the move they have been denied for so long. This can be achieved by focusing on three I’s: Investment (in future societies and training with no one left behind), Innovation (expanding diaspora bonds, global skills partnerships, digital technology such as mobile money), and Inclusion (development and migration policies for all, rights and opportunities with access to services). (See attachment)

The panellists were invited to describe their experiences on how the humane and just management of migration entails a dividend for the whole of society.

Ms. Sabrin Rahman, Head, Corporate Sustainability (Middle East), and Coordinator

Human Rights, HSBC, focused on the positive impact of partnerships as businesses do not occur in isolation. This also refers to several of the SDGs which give a positive role. A key priority of the financial sector is to prevent criminal sectors to develop public private partnerships and information sharing. Migration also of money is a problem. A Joint money laundering private taskforce has been set up to identify victims and perpetrators of criminal activities. HSBC’s humanitarian learning programme aims to act positively and effectively in critical situations by working together with the leadership academy. There are creative ways to leverage individual initiatives as financial inclusion of migrants and refugees is important.

Mr. Ryszard Cholewinsky, Senior Migration Specialist, Regional Office for Arab States, International Labour Office (ILO), Beirut, focused on the centrality of decent work and the need to include migrants and refugees, and to address the cost of migration and mobility and lack of access by refugees to productive work. Social justice is relevant for all workers, including migrants and refugees.

All persons in Lebanon have challenges to access decent work. The Report on the Right to Decent Work requires investment in decent and sustainable work. This includes three pillars with national strategies. Employment lies at the heart of most integrated mobility of today with 164 million out of 258 million people on the move in need of access to work. The right to employment is also included in the GCM to promote decent work for host communities and refugees, to be guided by the ILO recommendation and guiding principles on access by refugees and other displaced persons to the labour market. A broad international consensus exists on a potentially enabling role and the centrality of decent work and the role of labour for development. For employment to be in a decent way can be a complex challenge. This needs to address the cost of lack of access to decent work by migrant workers, as found in many areas such as of recruitment, absence of workers’ voice and skills and protection. Several SDG targets and GCM objectives address these concerns. ILO has developed a multi-stakeholder initiative consisting of four pillars to reduce cost of labour migration and mobility. These address the need to improve policies for fair recruitment on the basis of human rights and labour standards for all stakeholders in the recruitment process, and the right of access to work for peace and stability. (See attachment)

For Mr. Yannick du Pont, Director, ‘SPARK’, Amsterdam, job creation for youth and providing higher education are relevant for employment, as 95% of his clients are refugees and migrants. The focus is on providing access to higher education as only 1% of refugees have access; the focus is also on decent employment as this is crucial for refugees, and a major driver for the EU. This positive approach is vital as the image of migration and refugees has deteriorated in the last years. Almost all Syrian refugees want one day to return to their country, but the lack of access to higher education and labour force will lead to the question how this can be realised. Therefore, a longer-term future oriented approach is required.

The private sector needs to be involved and financial support is needed to start a company and to set an example to communities that refugees can be valuable members of society.

It is important to highlight the need to think how to localise response and be able to hand over after proper training and preparation. It is also valuable to work with the EU and the Islamic Development Bank and engage more east-west and design a more cultural sensitive approach, e.g. gender sensitive approaches in Islamic societies, long term and integrating refugees and migrants.

To create genuine partnerships, it is important to approach from multiple angles and encourage organisations from target countries to be invited to tender for support. We have to seriously question our own – western based – role.

Mr. Nils Kastberg, Director, Board of Special Olympics International, addressed the question of people on the move and how the SDGs address the concept of leaving no one behind. Where most information focuses on how many people have been reached, there is seldom any information on how many and who are not being reached. Most migratory moves leave children behind; for example, 1.2 million parents from Ecuador in Spain have left their children behind with their grandparents. There is a need to study the impact of this family separation on these generations; One quarter of Sweden’s population are first or second generation refugees, but many are not enough integrated, their experience not shared, which creates ghettoes and isolated groups. Only 1% of the global refugee population have access to higher education, but the question is how many have access to decent work. There is a need to analyse how many are not involved.

We need to show positive impact and challenges of regularising and violations of human rights during the migratory status when lacking access to education and health. We also must look at positive aspects of how hosting communities receive migrants.

Those left behind have no rights; of the 70 million people displaced about 1.5 million are mentally challenged and are deprived from proper personal engagement. We need to focus on how to change reality and engage and train locally, e.g. by sports to make a difference. The Special Olympics initiative provides a good example of how sports can provide support and human dignity. (See attachment)

Ms. Su’ad Jarbawi, Middle East Regional Coordinator, Mercy Corps, Amman, gave an example of the lack of knowledge or information to local population in situations such as in Yemen. The peace – development – humanitarian nexus can serve as a framework to look at SDGs, but is now being dissected whether it will or not rather than starting implementation. The complexity of the task at hand is without any precedent, involving responsibility sharing as well as adapting the humanitarian system. The greatest impact is at the micro level rather than at government level where people seek to find the best way to develop and move forward. Local responsibility is most efficient and appropriate in the challenges we are currently facing. Mercy Corps tries to programme more appropriately by involving local expertise. The shrinking space for international humanitarian actors requires delegation to and involvement with local partners. We need to unlock opportunities and not only address the challenges. Therefore, his agency has adapted / tried to adapt to the changing roles and humanitarian / development architecture with less clear definitions and paradigms by challenging whether it is truly capacitated to meet the real needs and optimise the programmes it delivers by reemphasising the need to focus on the real impact on target and goals.

Ms. Alice Laugher, CEO, “Committed to Good” (CTG), Dubai, described the initiative active in 21 countries with experts and support to the UN with international governance advice. She feels it a duty for an employer to care for one’s own staff, and does this by focusing on women empowerment and reaching the goal of 30% of activities done by women, in line with SDGs 5, 8 and 15. The CTG programme focuses on people on the move and by working at the local level with local partners it is able to reach otherwise inaccessible people in need of assistance. As an enterprise, it still is being a humanitarian actor as it is operating in areas where others cannot go, is passionate about making a difference, and is hoping that countries can return to stability and with essentials in life. (See attachment)


From the floor:

Localisation – how to make sure that both sides will learn from each other and that existing local knowledge will be counted?

How to support returning refugees who find upon their return their habitat destroyed?

HIV and migration are creating additional vulnerability, so how to better articulate the right to health in particular?

More information and guidance how to obtain support and access to services are needed.

Efforts to allow access by IDPs to labour must be doubled.

The relation between migration and development is agreed upon, but the question is how to promote for migrants to be included in the host country’s labour force;

Transfer of knowledge by migrants back to their country of origin is important; transfer of funds – how can the small share going to sub-Saharan Africa of the USD 700 billion of remittances be increased?

As out of 42 Least Developed Countries only Laos graduated between 1990 and 2015 out of it, the question is whether it is realistic to reach the MDGs and SDGs by 2030.

How can the private sector get a seat at the table and how can this partnership continue to be effective? How can the triple nexus be moved forward?


Regarding localisation, it is important to remember that mobilisation started at the local level; thinking globally and acting locally. Local capacity and knowledge are often crucial for the success of global companies / enterprises.

The extraction industry almost always leads to conflict and does not spare any country, most of them being LDCs.

It is high time for Africans to start taking charge of their future and their governments to move towards solutions. The private sector needs to be part of the solution, but how? The private sector needs to establish a network following certain ethical principles but not out of motivation to maximise the benefit if it comes at a cost to the humanitarian purpose.

To gain and maintain trust with the private sector is by showing common good in full partnership with the private sector and private institutions. Today’s realities are probably not more complicated than before, but clearly the era of hearts and minds is no longer valid. We need to be transparent on the source of funding and what political gain will be the result. On the changing nexus, we are seeing parts moving closer together as politicians know they need the humanitarian actors for their knowledge of the situation on the ground, while the humanitarians need political support for their access.

Many in the private sector hold high ethical values and can contribute to the common good as also per the Global Compact.

Local private sector initiatives require strict checking of credentials and background with agencies on the ground. To achieve decent work there is a need to involve the private sector at the policy development and negotiating stage.

In summary, the Session explored different aspects, social and economic dimensions of migration, with the realisation that these are complex issues, that migration has existed long and will continue, that we cannot try to control it but we can try to manage it to be better.


Special Presentation: “Victims of forced migration; the essential need for protection”

Dr. Taha Omar Sadiq Al-Khatib, General Manager, Programmes and Welfare, International Organisation for Relief, Welfare and Development (IORWD), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (Arabic). The organisation works in humanitarian and development action in many countries, and is a member in bodies such as the ECOSOC, IOM, the IOC and ICVA. Migration is monitoring movements of population fleeing conflict, their strength and the flows of movement across borders. Although definitions surrounding “migration” are not always clear, all migrants must be treated with respect, dignity and respect for their human rights. Whether migration is forced or voluntary, it is important to manage the fate of children and women as they constitute the largest share of victims of trafficking, forced labour, and recruitment.

The organisation sponsors orphans from Syria and Palestine in Lebanon and Jordan; this includes education of children and teachers, support to schools, shelter for refugees in Lebanon, seasonal support such as meals during Ramadan and Eid to refugees and the poor, and providing loans to improve productivity and develop employment opportunities. It is also active in other parts of the world to bring relief, and is now looking at options to replace direct aid with development aid to reduce dependency of poor families. (See attachment)


SESSION 5: “People on the move; how the media shape the public debate”


Ms. Mina Al Oreibi, Editor-in-Chief, “The National”, UAE – Chair, introduced an interactive session with a focus on the role of media in shaping the public debate.

Ms. Saba Al Mubaslat, CEO, Humanitarian Leadership Academy (HLA), focused on the power of language, needing to educate those who manipulate the truth to tell the story. Words are misused, while translation is often a problem. The HLA tries to familiarise students on the use of vocabulary, as this is often scary and putting a barrier as a stop to a future. It is important to use the right terminology and find a way to keep the face to the subjects of the story, in particular with regard to diversity in communities. Replacing the term “refugees” by “guests” sometimes has an unintended impact. There is a critical need to simplify also the language used by the politicians to describe a particular situation. One way to humanise the story is by putting refugees and persons in a western society in direct touch and exchange their experiences, keeping the story as simple and humane as possible. (See attachment)

Ms. Josephine Schmidt, Executive Editor, IRIN (“The New Humanitarian”), showed some images illustrating how many dramas are occurring all over the news, which may lead to an overload and the audience to switch off and look for better news. Mainstream coverage is often found shallow and not telling the real story. The topic of people on the move has been greatly politicised in the media, like last year in the US. Migration was presented as a story telling fear and a political agenda. Ownership of narrative has changed in the context of migration in Germany where it has also become a political tool. Media has to know the power of the story it tells, language becomes reality and the vision of the world. The media has a role to bring diverse perspectives and local voices, present the big picture and forward-looking solutions oriented approaches. Both media and the audience should not take everything at face value. It is important to humanise the stories dealing with both the heart and the head, but at the same time ensuring that the dignity of the people on the ground is respected, e.g. by showing the background of the person and a way forward.

Mr. Sami Mshasha, Spokesperson and Chief of Communications, UNRWA, agreed it is difficult to tell a positive story about the occupation of the Palestinian population and the refugee issue, which remains an ongoing topic due to the Israeli keeping it in the news.

The rather benevolent western approach of the 1950s-60s has been followed also by the Palestinian journalists, but only in the last decade a move has started to let the refugees tell their own stories, such as the students, the school parliaments, but also the Palestinian staff working at UNRWA. The Palestinian cause was lumped together with ISIS and other terrorist movements in a negative way, rather than getting out the voice of the Palestinians themselves. Even the regional media outlets are sometimes the worst conveyors of a message and failing to give the real story. Social media is a huge space where stories of people taking their life in their own hands are being overruled by the counter-truth media. Failure to find a political solution is not the real picture as it is portrayed.


From the floor:

How to get through to the people who are not necessarily interested in the real story but rather in the easy news? In view of audience fatigue and trust and advice to NGOs, how to package their message to gain the trust of the audience; social media often counteracting the media. What are the opportunities offered by social media and how can these be best used?

Responses: one way to target the core and wider audience is by a first-person account. Give children their own voice by linking schools in refugee camps with schools outside. The risk is that every time a positive story is out, there may be a very negative response from the “easy news” which requires then to become defensive on the accusations. Example is the US withdrawal of its USD 360 million annual support to UNRWA as a result of the partial and negative coverage.

Trust is aligned with language which needs to be transparent, fact based and without taking sides in telling the story.

Social media is a platform in its own right.

The audience of the traditional media differs from those who listen to soundbites, and new ways of telling a story need to also be learned by journalists.

For UNRWA the issue is how to put refugees first and the agency second, and how to use the various tools to leverage the message in the best way. This is to identify the audience for specific messages on situations to be conveyed.

Trying to bring the context as widely and transparent in a 360o way as possible to draw the audience into the picture and identify with the human story.

Refugees are fighting for themselves and trying to survive and are not necessarily resilient as they are often portrayed, and it is important to focus primarily on the women.

Trust and how we can trust the news, knowing the audience and how to address them through news outlets or search engines, and using the correct and clear language.



Special Presentation: “People on the move; planning from the future”

Dr. Randolph Kent, Director, The Futures Project, The Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies, London, described the displacement continuum. The Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration show many practical ways forward, including the impact of climate change and the need for a 360o perspective on migration, a more nuanced approach to displacement. The issue has been placed in a far more evidence-based context.

He added a dimension to the discussions suggesting to consider whether the solutions proposed will be relevant in a changing world order in which their relevance may be reduced by atomisation, an approach changing the very practical meaning of refugee, migrant or IDP, and to what extent this process may lead to global adjustments, in turn explaining the displacement continuum.

The concept of the displacement continuum could be based on four observations:

  1. Post-Westphalian world order: the system based upon the nation state, but it may not always be the best scale to address global issues which must be addressed on a global scale. Some view flexible global networks will be better equipped to manage global problems.
  2. Atomised society: far more fluid approaches to authority and governance with social, political and economic dynamics and structures in which social networks play a big role. It would mean a move from current organisational structures to a far greater shared consciousness with empowered execution at the appropriate level. This can be networks or other entities.
  3. Normal life proposition: assumes that humanitarian crises are reflections of normal life, but the same concept relates to how they are generated as a result from societies. Implications are that distinctions between developing and developed will be less relevant, while innovative technologies influence changed societies. Atomised society with intensified networks reconfigures economic systems and more people will be left behind.
  4. Displacement as a continuum: more and more are left behind as driven by new technologies reshaping the global system. This way humanitarian crises and displacement will be a reflection of these global transitions. Plausible and viable economic growth of cities may lead to a separation of the poor as they will no longer be part of new designs and end up moving between slumscapes. America was a key source of displacement in the 1930s. No-man’s land will no longer have borders or only loose borders with poor environmental conditions and infrastructures and become areas not worth fighting for.

Organisations concerned about the human fate have to be willing to go beyond the conceptual comfort zones. Institutions are often not willing to innovate and should go well beyond just problem solving. They will need to change, adapt, anticipate, innovate, collaborate and assume leadership. It is fascinating to see, despite the best equipment, failure to bring about change as it needs to be done from the bottom up and imposed from the top down. (See attachment)


SESSION 6: “Migrants and refugees; the need for new approaches in the provision of assistance”


Mr. Claus Sorensen, Member of the Board, Norwegian Refugee Council, and Former Director-General, ECHO – Chair, set the tone for the discussion by referring to the erosion of the nation state. The UN Charter gives the rights to the people, thus also to each person on the move. We are sleepwalking into disasters, situations of which we know that if nothing is done people will start to move. This has implications for how to deal with such situations intuitively rather than letting things just slip and creating more migrants and displacement. Often there are indications that a crisis is looming, signs of climate change impact, drought, ethnic clashes. South Sudan got independence but not under the most ideal conditions (guerrilla moved into a bureaucratic structure), Syria’s drought and food insecurity could have played a role in the unrest, triggering other movements, but the international community failed to act. The tension in Myanmar was brewing for a long time.

Extractive industries in North Kivu for rare minerals and cobalt by children are creating destitution and mass rape due to the total lack of governance.

Climate change creates insecurity and vulnerability, such as in Afghanistan and now starting in the Horn of Africa.

Many risk factors are linked to failed governance or food insecurity, but some good news is that the international community has understood that all different elements have to be addressed to avoid for the whole society to collapse. There is a need to work together to make countries more resilient. The UN system reform is essential to deliver results on the SDGs. The role of the Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator has been enhanced in the most affected countries, so far with mixed results. The UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) will be strengthened and hopefully with the result that risk analysis will be the basis for a high level political decision on an appropriate approach at the local level.

The nexus humanitarian – development is key to avoid gaps; the new nexus is also bringing in the political dialogue. The New Way of Working (NWOW) stipulates that every action has to be preceded by risk analysis, including security triggers.

The time has come to move from just these concepts to actions.

Ms. Runa Khan, Founder and Executive Director, Friendship NGO, Dhaka, showed a video to stress the importance of respect, dignity, compassion, and empathy.

In Bangladesh, the large number of climate change migrants is estimated to increase to ten million by 2040. Currently, some 12,000 people are on the move daily, having lost everything due to floods, cyclones or drought. With now one million Rohingya refugees being hosted, it is feared that Bangladesh may not be able to handle the combined problems of refugees, climate change migrants and IDPs.

Adaptation and mitigation are a critical part of the programme to be prepared for each season of climate hazards. This includes mobile schools and health teams and use of solar power, while sustainable economic development and income generation are actively pursued. “The poor cannot afford poor solutions.”

Changes have been seen in the last years in the attitude by the host communities with aggression, trafficking, newly discovered communicable diseases, and insecurity. Many problems are caused by wrong actions among the stakeholders such as price hikes caused by interventions which are not in line with the existing ecosystem. There is a need to see and prevent these problems, but the question is how. Human value inducing decisions have to be prioritised as dignity is a core element of civilisation.

Room for improvement: much deeper respectful collaboration between responding agencies is needed, together with more humility and responding on the basis of needs. (See attached video)

Mr. Carsten Schmitz-Hoffmann, Country Director Afghanistan, German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), agreed there are far too many challenges to tackle alone. The narrative for development cooperation is changing, now working cross sector, with a focus on turning crisis into opportunity. GIZ works to prevent crises, and address the multiple root causes affecting people’s flights. There is a need to accept complexity and work towards more holistic approaches, interdependence of organisations and work on response mechanisms to migrants and refugees. “Do no harm” and “leaving no one behind” are major principles to be linked also to the SDG agenda. Integration is needed between societal, organisational and individual levels and humanitarian, transitional and development cooperation assistance, and different support measures. Education and skills training are relevant in the transitional and development phase. In Jordan, the programme’s focus is on the transitional and development phases with more training and infrastructure support.

Cooperative competition may be helpful to become better by learning from each other by joint objectives, dialogue among “coopeting” partners, and agreeing on tolerance of failure to avoid staying stuck in the pilot phase. Platforms for such cooperation need to be created.

Room for improvement: need for a different political message as people on the move will not go away. Therefore, migration must be better managed and transferred into an opportunity, distinguishing between refugees and migrants in the response. (See attachment)

Ms. Joachime Nason, Head, Humanitarian Aid and Migration Section, EU Delegation to the United Nations and Other International Organisations, Geneva, gave a picture of the EU as a humanitarian in the world and what it has done in response to migration in Europe. There is a steep increase in humanitarian crises but there are only limited solutions to conflicts and many crises become protracted. Aid dependency has been created for which the humanitarian budget cannot respond alone and needs the development sector’s input. A working paper gives an outline how to bring humanitarian and development actors together. Challenges require both emergency and longer-term thinking to allow for refugees to return, such as the complex crisis of the Rohingya. The two Compacts were reached along different paths and have been a ground-breaking landmark as multilateralism is needed to bring order in the somewhat chaotic landscape. Collaboration between host country, country of origin or donor is critical, and 80% of the EU Commission’s budget goes to Member States which complicates the further steps. The migration flow into Europe should not have been a crisis as such, but it was complicated by the geographic concentration. Solidarity was sought to support those who were escaping conflict for their survival. An emergency response mechanism was set up to support Greece in receiving, registering and supporting the migrants arriving on its shores. Also aware more had to be done to support the neighbouring host countries which had to look at the impact on the existing structure, the EU created a longer-term response fund.

It is clear that a more regularised migration will avoid further resistance from host communities. So far 730,000 rescues at sea have been supported, but the responsibility must be shared out of solidarity such as relocation from Italy, Greece and Spain as well as resettlement. Smuggling and trafficking are being addressed and over a hundred cases have been dealt with.

Room for improvement: the tendency of development actors to be risk averse has to be bridged with the humanitarians who go there where assistance is needed. Anti-terror legislation restricts the response which should be based on need.


From the floor:

Dublin 2 Convention needs to be enacted; burden sharing, e.g. with Turkey, which is now hosting 3.2 million Syrian refugees, and has spent around USD 36 billion. Mechanisms for relocation and repatriation are not yet working well. What is needed to be done as a new approach to burden sharing? Need to pay more attention to the HIV situation in the Rohingya crisis, more data analysis is needed as well as more community oriented advocacy.


While we have a right to seek asylum, there is no right to migrate. This in turn affects the responsibility of countries of origin, transit and destination.

Data collection is still not perfect, in part on Gender Based Violence.

We need to move from project based to wider programme based approaches, also in cases of poverty.



  1. “People on the move and real food”

Ms. Merete Johansson, Founder, “Real Food Systems”, issued a call to urgent action to nourish and rebalance ecosystems. The initiative is committed to promote real food for planetary and human health. Some 821 million people in the world are hungry, while two billion are obese and overfed. Climate change accelerates at a rapid speed; one third of all greenhouse gases comes from unhealthy food production systems. This is closely linked to the need for humanitarian assistance. The humanitarian assistance requirements have increased to USD 25 billion, and will increase to USD 50 billion in 2050 if we do not act now. Only 12 years are left to achieve what is achievable. We must act now to not lead to further vulnerability.

Real food is unchanged from its natural state, and it feeds producers, communities and the Earth; it respects human and animal health and welfare, social justice and the environment.

Sustainable food systems can feed life and the planet at the same time; 11 million lives can be saved every year as pointed out by EAT-Lancet. This is a call to action to transform ecosystems as food, climate, health, SDGs and humanitarian solutions are interdependent. A climate catastrophe is stoppable by producing real food. We must get out of our silos now, we will not have another chance. The initiative is focused on the youth and the website realfoodsystems.org will serve as a platform to inform and inspire people to take action. (See attachment)

From the floor:

An invitation was extended to the speaker to start the system in DRC that is in need of such a system. Is it too expensive for those living in conflict? It can be done this way if being allowed but wondering how to work together.

Responses: Real food is plant based and less than processed food or animal based diets and has far more proteins. The issue is to grow fresh food in areas unfriendly for agricultural production. We need to put back in the earth what we take out. We need food of different colours with different values. Volunteers are encouraged to take out the message which is critical for far bigger agendas.

  1. “People on the move, a focus on the Middle East”

H.E. Ambassador Peter Schatzer, International Institute for Humanitarian Law, San Remo, and Former Chief of Staff, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), showed the global spread of migration of 258 million persons. It is a very heterogeneous group of economic migrants and grown dramatically.

Categories are sometimes overlapping and migrants move from one category to another when conditions change. Europe and Asia have most migrants. The New York Declaration allows for an overlap between international migrants and refugees while the Compacts on Refugees and Migration separate them. The number of refugees and IDPs has increased dramatically since about 2015. The largest refugee hosting countries are Turkey, Pakistan and Uganda, while 25% of the current population of Lebanon are refugees. The main source countries are Syria, Palestine, Afghanistan, Republic of South Sudan, and Myanmar.

Building fences and walls has increased from 16 in 1989 to 65 today but is no solution as barriers cause more deaths when people try to overcome them. Migration from Africa has caused 79 deaths in the first ten weeks of 2019. Most moves to the GCC area are for labour reasons: 10.2 million to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and1.7 million to the UAE. Most countries in the Arab world have a young population, with  around 70% of the population of Yemen and the Gaza strip under 30 years of age.

Population growth in some countries which puts more pressures is a contributing factor to migration, and so is climate change. (See attachment)

From the floor:

Are expatriates being counted in the number of migrants? Yes, although they have more freedom to move around than migrant workers.

  1. “The UAE Red Crescent Authority; a sizeable source of assistance to refugees.”

Mr. Mohammed Al Zarouni, General Manager, UAE Red Crescent Authority, Dubai, pointed out that the Authority is always ready to provide assistance when needed. The programme is focused on tolerance, for which it is a question whether migrants in the UAE face any problems. Over 200,000 foreign workers in the UAE originate from the United Kingdom, but they also come from Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh, and live in dignity offered by the UAE. Tolerance has been a currency in the UAE throughout history and part of the welcoming attitude of the late Sheikh Zayed. Speaker gave some historical illustrations of hatred and revenge in the past which also apply in current situations in Iraq and Syria. We have to welcome one another as brothers and sisters and live together in peace.

The UAE RCA is present in 28 countries all over the world, including The Philippines, Fiji, The Horn of Africa, and also in South America. More than 18 billion dirham is being spent in Yemen to rebuild the country. It runs two refugee camps in Greece, one in Bangladesh for the Rohingya, seven in North Iraq, and in Jordan, and hospitals in several countries. Camps usually have medical centres for refugees and the local population and give free care for daily consultations.

A video (attached) showed a camp set up in 2013 in Jordan, 60 km north of Amman for Syrian refugees with several international NGOs. Special care is given for children, the future of the nations, to not feel different from other children. Land is provided by H.M. the King of Jordan.

“… Hope will always arise from the depth of pain.”

  1. “Staying in touch, through innovation and solutions”

Mr. Giuseppe Saba, CEO, International Humanitarian City (IHC), Dubai, gave a brief overview of the activities of the IHC in 2018 as well as a number of innovative solutions. It manages the Humanitarian Logistics Data Bank, a step by step project. IHC is now housing 63 humanitarian organisations and 18 companies, it dispatched humanitarian aid to 89 countries in 2018; and hosted students and guests. The main destinations of the shipments were in the Middle East and Africa, but aid was also dispatched to Bangladesh for the Rohingya refugees.

In order to help the humanitarian community to create awareness of their work in the world, the “flash studio” was developed with two kinds of kits of satellite equipment. It allows humanitarians and people affected by crisis to tell their stories and to stay in touch with the outside world. It helps to build a solid bridge of communication and information sharing between the field, media outlets and relevant decision makers. (See attachment)



H.E. Mr. Sergio Piazzi, Secretary-General, Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), summarised the key elements of the discussions and illustrated these with examples from his own experience. Every year the debate reflects the increasing and changing challenges the international humanitarian community is facing. The need for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and crisis management is growing and challenges the limited resources.

People engaged in humanitarian work are on a mission to help others. The UAE is for the fifth year in a row the largest humanitarian donor in relation to its GDP, an illustration of its humanitarian commitment. Humanity and solidarity characterise human response.

People on the move are all human beings deserving dignity and respect. Climate change caused already in the fourth century a mass movement from the East to western Europe, and it is an important cause of the current migration flow. Ad hoc solutions do not address the overall problems.

Resources available are overwhelmed by the massive inflow of people on the move.

It was stressed that education and vocational training are important for people on the move to become independent, either in the countries of transit, destination or return.

Migration should be addressed in a positive way as it can have sizeable economic benefits by bringing manpower needed in one area facing labour force shortages while at the same time others cannot find employment. The question is what is the best way for humanitarians to respond to humanitarian challenges. The need for closer collaboration between the humanitarian actors themselves and with the development world is increasingly evident, while it is imperative for lessons learned to be put in place, together with new technologies. Challenges to the security of humanitarian operations are at stake.

The role of the media has moved from written press to more visuals which requires intensified knowledge and use of technology to bring the human stories.

As the Secretary-General of PAM, he closed his statement by mentioning the possibility of an MOU between the IHC and PAM, and that the MOU with the UAE Parliament is under preparation.



H.E. Ambassador Gerhard Putman-Cramer, Director, DIHAD International Scientific Advisory Board (DISAB), appreciated the stimulating opening addresses – in spite of the ceremony being in the shadow of the air disaster that has taken so many of our colleagues.

The comprehensive session on the Global Compacts was followed by a thought provoking session on integration and opportunities, a session on causes and consequences which gave various perspectives, and a session on security which duly clarified many of the issues involved.

We were reminded of the important role of the media and the changing nature of their methods and instruments. We were confronted with some of the failures and given new ideas for the provision of assistance to people on the move. Several of the most important actors in the realm of assistance gave inspiring keynote addresses, while a number of special presentations led us from the need for protection of victims of forced migration to planning for the future, from global real food alternatives to regional specificities, and from the need for all of us to collaborate and truly commit to possible additional solutions through innovative approaches.

The event has been most interesting and inspiring. The programme, speakers, and panellists provided options for contacts, networking, sharing of best practices and new partnerships, which give the DIHAD event its true value.

In closing the Conference, the Director of DISAB announced that the 17th edition of DIHAD will be on 10 – 12 March 2020, and will be under the overall umbrella of “Aid, a focus on Africa”.