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Global Diaspora Virtual Exchange on Response to COVID-19

Type of Event


Diaspora groups are not only often the first to respond, but that their political, social, cultural and human capital coupled with their in-depth knowledge of the country, and familiarity with local languages, social, cultural, and religious norms, can lead to more targeted and tailor responses. This was recognized by the humanitarian community at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016 which called for a more institutionalised way of incorporating actors such as diasporas in humanitarian responses. The COVID-19 pandemic however is perhaps the first acute global crisis that most living today have ever experienced and thus these responses are being developed within an entirely unprecedented context that calls for new levels of coordination and collaboration. While specific diaspora communities may have experience in responding to similar emergencies in their countries of origin, lack of communication between diaspora communities and between diasporas and other public and private actors often results in interventions that do not account for previous experiences, lessons learned, and do not leverage possible partnerships, thus making the response less effective and more limited. If however these experiences and best practices are shared and cross-community collaboration is fostered then the effectiveness and impact of diaspora contributions can more easily reach their full potential. 



In response to this situation iDiaspora and IOM are organising this first Global Diaspora Virtual Exchange on COVID-19 Response. The objectives of the Exchange are twofold.

  1. To create a space for collaboration where diaspora groups from different communities can share experiences and best practices in order to maximize their impact within their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and beyond.
  2. To showcase and bring attention to the important work that diaspora groups are already doing on the ground in order to encourage policy makers and practitioners to strengthen their collaboration and support to such efforts. 



In order to maximize opportunities for virtual exchange, a number of different channels will be made available to participants. Firstly, participants will be invited to share examples of successful interventions, best practices, and opportunities for collaboration through the iDiaspora forum and, secondly, participants can discuss their experiences during the Virtual Exchange Event which is planned for two hours and will take place on Wednesday 22 April from 16.00-18.00 UCT/GMT+2. After the event, IOM will compile and the inputs received through the iDiaspora forum and during the Virtual Exchange Event in an outcome document showcasing diaspora initiatives and best practices which can be disseminated to policy makers and practitioners to encourage further collaboration with diaspora groups during the crisis and moving forward

Within the iDiaspora forum you are invited to share:

For the Virtual Exchange Event on 22 April, participants will need to sign-in through the below login information:

​Participants will be able to sign-in and participate directly through their web browser without downloading and additional applications. During the event there will be two opportunities for exchange, initially a panel of up to six diaspora individuals who will present their concrete experience in supporting the response to the current COVID-19 crisis and/or similar emergencies in the past and subsequently all participants would be invited to share their experiences during a plenary discussion in order to identify best practices. See the 'Topics/Panel areas' tap for more details.



Session Format Timing
  Introduction  IOM welcoming remarks     10 mins   
  Sharing Successes and case studies    Panel discussion   50 mins
  Exploring Best Practices  Plenary discussion   40 mins
  Agreeing on a Way Forward  Plenary discussion   20 mins


Topic / Panel Areas

Welcoming Remarks

António Vitorino

Director General for the International Organization for Migration since October 2018, Mr. Vitorino is a former European Commissioner for Justice and Home Affairs and former Minister of the Presidency and National Defence of Portugal. He has enjoyed a distinguished career in Portugal as a lawyer as well as in electoral politics, including serving in Parliament and as Minister for National Defence and Deputy Prime Minister within the government of António Guterres, now the United Nations’ Secretary General.



Kemo Camara

Founder and CEO of Omek, a community-centric platform for the social and professional advancement of the African diaspora talents. He has also co-founded many businesses and non-profit organizations and played various leadership roles in community organizations. He has more than 15 years of professional experience in leadership and management working for multinational corporations including banks and manufacturing companies.



Adel Karoui

Businessman based in Turin with over 30 year’s professional experience in the hospitality industry and as a strategy consultant for over 20 years.  His background includes a variety of projects with a wide range of major customers in Italy and other countries working on all aspects of hotel management and tourism, including analysis of financial information, business targets and marketing strategies.


Dr. Charles Senessie

Founder and President of the UN ECOSOC accredited Afro- European Medical and Research Network that brings together health practitioners in the Diaspora to serve people all over sub-Saharan Africa.  He is also CEO of Senessie Low-Income Countries Healthcare and Consultancy Services.  He currently works as a physician for the Swiss Federal Government in the regulation of clinical trials locally and internationally.


Mark Kosmo 

Chair of the Global Albanians Foundation as well as chair of the Massachusetts Albanian American Society since its founding in 2006 and CFO of the Mentor Group in Boston with experience working as an independent consultant and for the World Bank in Albania and Washington D.C. Mark is a member of the Board of Directors of GERMIN (an organization in Kosovo promoting Albanian Diaspora engagement) and Action for Mothers and Children.


Niloufar Rahim

Chairwoman of KEIHAN foundation and active member of International Federation of Medical Students’ Association and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. She has supported many projects to improve health care and higher education in Afghanistan. Born in Kabul in 1987, she left Afghanistan when she was two years old and arrived in the Netherlands at age ten, where she studied medicine at Leiden University and has since worked in the following fields: emergency health, paediatrics, gynaecology and as general practitioner.


Peter Kwok 

Chairman and Founder of the UK Federation of Chinese Professionals (UKFCP), a national community organization for global Chinese professionals in the country. He has previously shared advices with the Scottish Government, local councils, universities and SMEs on diaspora strategies and also at the World Overseas Professional Associations' Chairpersons Conference organized by the Chinese State Council.  


Sihana Bejtullahu

Co-Executive Director of GERMIN since March 2020. Ms. Bejtullahu has a strong background in civil society organizations and, among others professional experiences, has been directly involved in programs supporting education and innovation systems within youngsters in more than 24 Kosovo municipalities. She is also an active human rights activist, with a particular interest in women and other vulnerable groups.  


Yohannes Assefa

Member of the Board of Directors of the Ethiopian Diaspora Trust Fund and an experienced business lawyer and international development professional with over 20 years of experience in the United States and Africa. He is the founder and Executive Director of the Ethiopian Diaspora Business Forum, the oldest operating Ethiopian Diaspora business association in the United States. Mr. Assefa is also a member of the African Diaspora Network’s Executive Council.


Target Audience

The event is open to all diaspora communities with a focus on facilitating exchange between African, Asian, and European diaspora communities. All participants will then be invited to register through iDiaspora and will have the opportunity to share their experiences and submit inputs and initiatives during the plenary discussion. 

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