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Diaspora humanitarian response and engagement – Key Highlights

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DEMAC is a global initiative aiming to enhance coordination among diaspora organizations involved in humanitarian assistance, and across diaspora organizations and institutional humanitarian actors.

DEMAC seeks to increase engagement and visibility for diaspora organizations in the humanitarian system. DEMAC contributes to a deeper understanding of diasporas as humanitarian actors and thus adds to transforming the humanitarian ecosystem.

Diaspora organizations are multi-sectoral, fast responding actors who work transnationally.

Having a connection and understanding of their country of origin or heritage plays a vital role in humanitarian assistance where diaspora organizations often are part of the first response in the aftermath of a disaster.

They are key actors when it comes to raising the alarm in times of crisis. The ease and frequency of communication between local communities and diaspora organizations means that they can be alerted in real-time, and their capacity to collect and disperse funds rapidly ensures that they are a key factor in unlocking the first responses in crisis settings. In hard-to-reach places where access may be an issue, diaspora organizations have a unique advantage due to their local connections and ties.

They use their transnational position to respond to the growing demands for remote management and cross-border response in countries where international actors have a limited presence, and to advocate on behalf of crisis affected populations in the policy arenas of their countries and regions of residence.

In line with the objective of facilitating increased common ground between diaspora and institutional humanitarian action and enhancing mutual knowledge and coordination between diaspora and humanitarian actors and the international humanitarian system, DEMAC commissioned Owl RE research and evaluation consultancy in 2020-21 to conduct two real-time reviews and three case studies. The case studies provided an in-depth analysis of the diaspora response to the crises experienced in Pakistan, Somalia and Ukraine from 2014 to 2020. The real-time reviews provided a rapid analysis of the diaspora response to sudden-onset crises, with a real-time review conducted on the flash floods and landslides in Timor-Leste (April 2021) and a second on the COVID-19 response in Tunisia (October 2021).

This document provides key highlights and findings of this research.