x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Aid groups aim to better co-ordinate their efforts

Officials hope for more coordination between Un agencies and local organisations.

DUBAI // The organisers of a meeting of about 50 local and international humanitarian agencies yesterday are hoping to hold the event regularly to help foster stronger ties and better co-ordination to disaster response between groups with a presence in the Emirates.

International Humanitarian City (IHC) and UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, brought together the representatives yesterday for the networking meeting in Dubai that they hope they can continue to hold on a quarterly basis.

Brigitte Khair Mountain, the head of UNHCR's external relations hub for the GCC in Abu Dhabi, hopes it will lead to more co-operation between the various aid groups operating from the UAE, from UN agencies to local organisations and NGOs.

"At the end of the day more concerted efforts [on humanitarian issues] have a greater impact," she said. "What we also wanted was to let our counterparts know that we, as UNHCR and the UN, are here not just to fund-raise and tell people to give us money and that we will do the projects. We have to partner as well with local organisations and this hasn't necessarily been happening a lot so far."

Organisers also hope such meetings will help prevent duplication of efforts when a humanitarian disaster strikes. Likewise, greater co-ordination between the organisations could pinpoint gaps that need to be filled. "There are organisations with the same line of work, so we need to bring everyone together," said Makiya al Hajiri, the head of IHC. "If we share the same vision, why don't we all get together and partner? When a crisis happens you need the expertise of the UN and the UN needs charities and NGOs to link them with the local communities in which they work - they both need each other."

Dr Elissar Sarrouh, the UN resident co-ordinator and the UN Development Programme's resident representative to the UAE, yesterday told people from organisations including the UAE Red Crescent Authority, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Grameen-Jameel and Life for Relief and Development, that co-ordinated responses to humanitarian disasters were critical.

"Establishing bridges between the UN, non-profit organisations and the private sector can be done," she said. "I hope this networking meeting will encourage humanitarian actors to work together."