The 3rd International Somali Global Diaspora Conference, which brings together Somalis from home and abroad, ended in Istanbul Monday.
The three-day conference organized by Global Somali Diaspora (GSD), a non-profit organization, brought together Somalis from around the world and from all professions, including artists, activists, businessmen, doctors, religious leaders, philanthropists, and diplomats. The conference was also attended by the former president of Somalia, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
“The key aim, of course, is to bring the various members of the diaspora together and create a space where they can network, exchange knowledge and experience but also discuss issues concerning them in the diaspora and back home,” said Jawahir Dahir, chair of the GSD.
“We see the amazing things that Somalis in the diaspora are doing as well as Somalis in Somalia, and with the wealth of expertise that we have, we want to redouble those efforts” Dahir added. The Somali diaspora has grown hugely in number since the collapse of the Somali government in 1991, with the number of people born in
Somalia but living abroad more than doubling between 1990 and 2015. Alongside this many Somalis are born citizens in the countries their parents moved to whether Tanzania or Sweden.
The largest numbers have remained in the immediate neighborhood, particularly Kenya and Ethiopia, but a growing, influential and talented community has emerged in North America and Europe who have had a huge impact in their respective societies.
Their contributions aren’t limited to their own societies, the U.N. Development Program (UNDP) estimates that Somalis in Europe and North America send home close to $1.6 billion a year providing a vital lifeline to the economy in Somalia. This also includes investment in a string of charities, companies, schools and other services that the diaspora has helped launch usually with the assistance of Somalis on the ground. Abdinor Dahir, a panelist at the media workshop and researcher at TRT World Research Center said: “the diaspora has huge talent and resources to offer bring back to Somalia.”
“They have played a huge role in the state-building process, conflict resolution as well as humanitarian assistance and the aversion or mitigation of the impacts of droughts and famines and therefore their role in state-building is invaluable,” he said.
The GSD organization itself was established in Turkey in 2014, with the initiative of young Somalis.
“As an embassy, we have witnessed a rise in the number of our citizens taking an interest in Turkey especially in the last eight years,” says Jama Mohamed, Somalia’s ambassador to Turkey. “The Somali diaspora in Turkey, for example, we have families relocating from Europe, Middle East, and some parts of Africa owing to our close brotherly association with Turkey,” he added.