The Humanitarian Work Forum 2021 kicked off on Wednesday, bringing together high-ranking officials from international and local humanitarian organisations, academic institutions, and the United Nations to mark this year’s World Humanitarian Day in Doha.
High-ranking international personalities and an elite group of specialists, experts, and guests are attending the two-day forum, organised by Qatar Charity (QC) in co-operation with Qatar University (QU).
According to QC, the event is considered to be a first-of-its-kind initiative as it sheds light on the challenges facing humanitarian organisations, their workers, and volunteers.
It seeks to find solutions and follow the best means and safest methods to deliver humanitarian services to the needy and those affected by the humanitarian crisis globally.
“This forum is an affirmation of the role entrusted to QC as the largest international humanitarian organisation in the region, which has an active presence around the world,” said QC CEO Yousef bin Ahmed al-Kuwari as he welcomed attendees and thanked guests, partners and work teams in his remarks during the opening session.
“It comes as part of QC’s keenness to pay attention to the challenges facing humanitarian workers and volunteers, and harness all its efforts to alleviate the suffering of those affected by disasters and crises,” he added.
Al-Kuwari lauded the significant contribution of experts who are participating in the forum, which he hopes will come up with constructive recommendations and innovative solutions for the various fields and aspects of humanitarian work.
He also hoped the forum will become an annual event “that will serve as an umbrella of knowledge for those interested in this regard.”
Dr Eiman Mustafawi, vice president for Student Affairs at QU, said the forum came within the framework of the university's social responsibility, affirming that charitable and voluntary work is a duty towards others.
She noted that QU’s Volunteering and Community Service Centre plays an active role in this regard, saying that volunteer work makes a student more aware of the needs of society and the world.
Ibrahim Abdulla al-Dehaimi, general manager of the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities, emphasised that humanitarian work in Qatar is a societal culture based on the meanings of love and giving, noting that on World Humanitarian Day, “we commemorate the workers of Qatari humanitarian organisations providing aid to those in need around the world.”
In his keynote speech, International Committee of the Red Cross president Peter Maurer said he was delighted to be taking part in the forum as he lauded global humanitarian efforts, led by aid workers and volunteers.
“Today’s humanitarian context is ever-more complex, with intersecting needs requiring multi-dimensional solutions,” Maurer said, adding that “to respond effectively, today’s humanitarian organisations must draw upon new skills, capacities and approaches, and we cannot do it alone.
"Partnering and harnessing innovation are essential. This forum is an excellent platform to share experience, learn from each other, and to join forces for the future to better respond to humanitarian challenges locally and globally.”
Kelly T Clements, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, said: “Qatar has been a reliable partner, from the government to private sector to civil society to individual donors, with total contributions from Qatar to the UN Refugee Agency alone amounting to over QR1bn ($333mn).”
“The challenges facing us at the UN Refugee Agency and our partners are immense,” added Clements, noting that 82.4mn people, half of whom are children, live in forced displacement today.
In addition to the opening session, five other sessions were also held on the first day of the forum, discussing various humanitarian topics.
The first session focused on partnerships in humanitarian work, with the participation of Khaled Khalifa, UN High Commissioner for Refugees’ senior advisor on Islamic Finance and regional representative to the Gulf Co-operation Council countries, and Mohammed al-Ghamdi, assistant CEO for the Governance Sector.
Khalifa discussed the importance of humanitarian partnerships in delivering assistance, saying that 85% of refugees live in developing countries and more than 50% of the displaced are from member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation.
He noted that humanitarian partnerships contribute to the success of the organisations' work, giving examples of UNHCR's partnerships in the Middle East.
He concluded his presentation by reviewing strategic partnerships between UNHCR and Qatar.
Al-Ghamdi lauded the existing partnerships between QC and UN agencies, especially UNHCR.
In the second session titled ‘Technology and Humanitarian Work’, three paper presentations were delivered.
Given by Chadallah Mohamed, head of the Developmental Projects section at QC, the first presentation dealt with the importance of economic and social empowerment for people in need and its association with sustainable development.
The second paper titled ‘Creative Technological Ideas in humanitarian work’ was delivered by M Majed Alza'abi, deputy general manager of Corporate Communications, Direct Aid Association.
It focused on the ingredients for the success of campaigns, and the steps to be taken when launching campaigns for humanitarian projects, in addition to utilising technology in presenting ideas and programmes.
The third paper titled ‘Using Facebook Advertising Data for Socio-Economic Vulnerability Assessment of Migrants and Refugees’ was presented by Dr Ingmar Weber, research director, Social Computing, Qatar Computing Research Institute, It included validating in a non-refugee setting and analysed and presented assessment facts of Syrian refugees` socio-economic situation in Lebanon.
The third session, titled ‘Harnessing innovation and technological development in humanitarian work’, was a panel discussion and included three main themes.
Under the first theme, ‘The effectiveness of technology in the implementation of psychological support plans’, Dr Marcia Brophy, Mental Health and Psychosocial Support consultant, Unicef; and Shirley Mark Prabhu, Regional Adolescent Health and HIV specialist, Unicef, spoke.
Under the second theme, ‘Activation of technology in marketing and generating resources’, Abdulaziz Jassim Hejji, director of Customer Service, and acting director of Marketing and Digital, QC, discussed the importance of using modern technologies in humanitarian work.
Under the third theme, ‘Incorporation of private-sector solutions into humanitarian organisations’, Ahmed Hafez, business director, Refinitiv Qatar, presented figures and statistics about the impacts of the pandemic, and compliance gaps, the power of innovation, and Word-Check.
In the fourth session, Siwar al-Dhahab, a journalist, talked about his humanitarian experience of visiting camps and living with the displaced and refugees.
He presented his ‘Omran’ programme, which documents success stories made after overcoming the challenges of life.
The fifth session of the first day of the forum concluded with several parallel workshops that discussed improving technology use in economic and social empowerment, providing physiological support, marketing the requirement of human, financial, and non-financial resources.
The forum will continue its sessions today and will conclude its work with final recommendations that reflect the outputs of the presentations and discussions.
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