Under the theme of ‘People on the Move’ the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid and Development Conference and Exhibition (DIHAD) opened its 16th edition yesterday by Sheikh Hasher bin Maktoum, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Information at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Center.
The event is held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The 3-day premier humanitarian gathering in Dubai is exploring ways to help refugees and migrants in their rehabilitation efforts while at the same time addressing risks and challenges facing them at different stages of migration.
Prior to the opening ceremony, VIPs, participants, and delegates of DIHAD paid tribute to those who perished in the Ethiopian Airlines crash on the 10th of March including more than 19 members of the UN family.
Following the opening ceremony, Sheikh Hasher toured the exhibition area occupying an overall space of 7,700 square meters and visited the stands of a number of local and international humanitarian organizations, NGO’s and charitable foundations, as well as the biggest international brands and establishments from all across the globe.
In a speech delivered on behalf of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Representative of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in the Western Region and Chairman of the UAE Red Crescent Authority, Rashid Mubarak Al Mansouri, Deputy Secretary- General of Local Affairs at the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), said, “We are glad to be here again for the 16th edition of DIHAD Conference and Exhibition, in the UAE Year of Tolerance, to shape together the future vision of the humanitarian aid and put a new footprint on the path of unlimited humanitarian generosity which the UAE had drawn its track through a long course of giving and have put an end to many humanitarian crises and made a difference in the level of rapid intervention and care to overcome the challenges that face the world and hinger its development and progress. It is no coincidence that the UAE ranks first in the world for the fifth consecutive year as the largest international donor of development aid compared to its national income according to a report issued by Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). This confirms the commitment of the UAE to its universal humanitarian mission in all its impartiality and regardless of the ideological, racial or sectarian considerations, as according to UAE, humans are humans regardless of anything else and this is the only standard to help them. This will always remain the mark of the UAE and its wise leadership and will always remain a firm approach in its foreign policy.”
He continued on saying: “The importance of this edition stems from the fact that it discusses the fundamental issue of migration and asylum along with finding the appropriate solutions to tackle such issues. During the past years, many events and crises have taken place, foremost of which is the issue of illegal immigration and its dire consequences on the victims who flee from their homelands due to crises, conflicts, poverty, and hunger; searching for security, stability and decent life in other countries, indifferent to the risks that may face them.”
He added: "Through this conference, we will highlight the causes that lead the youth to leave their countries and migrate away from their homes in search of a better life while discussing the possible alternatives to alleviate these causes. We also aim to adopt initiatives that achieve youth's aspirations for stability and decent life. This can be achieved by strengthening the capacities and supporting all fields of developments that would benefit all sectors in the less developed countries in order to help them find better alternatives than migration.”
He also pointed out that "In this gathering, we appeal to the international community and its organizations and bodies to be bolder in exploring and entering new fields of humanitarian and development work, and to enhance the response to major humanitarian issues that are facing the world and thus make the required difference in early intervention levels and reduce the victims of migration.”
“The UAE has early detected the humanitarian repercussions of migration and asylum, and worked through its government and humanitarian organizations, led by the UAE Red Crescent to mitigate those repercussions by supporting the areas of real development in many countries and human communities, and adopted leading initiatives in the areas of education, health, improving living conditions, supporting youth stability, providing their needs and enhancing their capabilities to cope with difficult living conditions. Furthermore, the UAE is actively contributing to the protection of refugees and displaced persons through their extended programs in their temporary areas of residence. It also contributes to improving the ways of voluntary repatriation through the development of their communities of origin; and in this regard we have fruitful cooperation and constructive partnership with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration” He concluded.
From his side, H.E. Antonio Vitorino, Director General of International Organization for Migration, (IOM) said during his opening speech: “In recent years, large-scale movements of people, driven by diverse motivations, have posed a political and humanitarian challenge to the international community. IOM’s experiences with large-scale movements -- whether populations of internally displaced, or across borders -- in recent years has taught the organisation a number of key lessons.”
He added: “Regional solidarity towards hosting those in need is the first, and most important element of an international humanitarian response. We have witnessed countries across the MENA region demonstrating exceptional solidarity in recent years.”
He concluded: “Today, through this event we announce that IOM will continue to work to bring together a wide range of voices and perspectives – primarily across the UN, but also key non-state stakeholders – to ensure that the international community pursues a coherent, and robust, approach to migration in the twenty-first century that is based in fact, not fiction.”
On his part, Amin Awad, Director of Middle East and North Africa Bureau and Regional Refugee Coordinator, UNHCR delivered a speech on behalf of Filippo Grandi, High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR, said, “Looking ahead, I hope that the UAE will become an important partner in our efforts – promoting the values of compassion and tolerance, and forging new, innovative and practical ways to support refugees become self-reliant, and rebuild a future. In the UAE’s Year of Tolerance, this would be a legacy worthy of His Late Highness Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The UAE can play an important role in helping us to drive forward the vision of the Global Compact on Refugees, and in so doing, participate in the transformation of the global response to refugee crises”.
Commenting on the occasion, Dr. Abdul Salam Al Madani, Executive Chairman of DIHAD and DISAB said, “In light of the current humanitarian crises that face our world today, and the increasing number of the forcibly displaced people and immigrants, we are gathering here at DIHAD Conference and Exhibition to underscore the importance of joining hands to tackle all the humanitarian issues and address them in a way that would help us in building a better future for all. Today, and in the year of tolerance, we are proud to say that the UAE is always proactive and one of the first responders in providing relief and aid to all those who are in need. This great support comes in line with the vision and approach of the late Sheikh Zayed who sat the UAE on a path of charity and who is regarded as the icon of global humanitarian work.”
He added: “On this occasion, we would like to extend our warmest regards and gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who has served our nation for 50 years with utmost dedication and for his continuous patronage for DIHAD Conference and Exhibition for 16 years. We would like also to thank all the governmental institutions dealing with humanitarian affairs and non-governmental organizations for their support to this humanitarian event.”
While ‘global migration’ is a key highlight in the conference, on the first day, DIHAD featured important discussions on a number of topics such as ‘The Global Compacts on Refugees and Migration; How will they help? where experts discussed the key challenges such the unexpected arrival of large numbers of people and the consequences of migrants undertaking dangerous journeys. In addition, humanitarian leaders focused on ‘Education in emergencies as a strategic investment in the future: tackling the education gap between displacements and formal schooling” where they stressed the role of education for refugees and migrant children while experts also discussed ‘People on the Move; Integration and Opportunities’.
Running parallel to the conference, the exhibition is featuring 640 participating entities with a number of Non-Governmental Organizations, Humanitarian Governmental Associations, Companies, Suppliers and International Brands showcasing their latest projects and services. Moreover, the exhibition is playing host to 9 ‘Innovation Workshops’ spread over 3-days inside the exhibition area, including 2 UNHCR workshops, dedicated to the launch of their new e-supplier tool under the theme ‘Introduction of UNHCR Portal for Vendor Registration ‘E-supplier Connection’.