IOM, in partnership with the Government of Afghanistan, this week organized a workshop to help Afghanistan to engage with its diaspora abroad to promote the country’s development.
The event was the first of its kind in Afghanistan and was attended by 16 representatives of various government bodies, including the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, which is currently the lead ministry responsible for diaspora engagement.
IOM presented an “Enabling, Engaging, Empowering” approach to diaspora communities for development. This includes the mapping of diasporas, best practices in engagement strategies, reducing barriers to engagement, and how to empower policymakers and diasporas to build mutual trust.
“Almost anyone can be part of a diaspora. It is a very personal decision which links to the feeling of identity and belonging to a certain group or place,” IOM regional labour migration expert Lara White told delegates.
The training was part of an IOM Development Fund-supported project to help the Afghan government in its diaspora engagement efforts, which aim to attract foreign investment and skills transfer. There are an estimated 6 to 7 million Afghans living abroad.
IOM, which began to promote the return of qualified Afghans to the country in 2001, is now supporting the roll out of Afghanistan’s National Diaspora Policy, which President Ashraf Ghani prioritized as a means of achieving development and self-sufficiency for Afghanistan in July 2017.
“IOM congratulates the Afghan Government for its diaspora engagement efforts over the past year and stands with you in further promoting diaspora engagement for the medium to longer term development of Afghanistan,” IOM Chief of Mission and Special Envoy Laurence Hart told the workshop.
The IOM Development Fund project aims to inform the Afghan National Diaspora Policy in preparation for its roll-out. It will firstly conduct a mapping of the Afghan diaspora in selected countries. Secondly it will support a needs assessment to determine where the biggest needs are for diaspora engagement to see where the diaspora can have the biggest impact. And thirdly it will build the capacity of government staff in diaspora engagement.
The project and the Afghan government’s efforts to engage the diaspora are in line with Objective 19 of the Global Compact on Migration, which calls for creating the “conditions for migrants and diasporas to fully contribute to sustainable development in all countries.”