UN IOM EcoSoc Diaspora presentation

“The Role of the Diaspora During
and After Crisis Situations”
Side Event to the ECOSOC
Humanitarian Affairs Segment
June 25th 2014, 8:15 to 9:30am,
Conference room 7 (NLB), UN Headquarters, New York
Speaker: Katleen Felix, President
Haitian Hometown Associations Resource Group (HHTARG)
Q1) To what extent can or should diaspora
communities be engaged in humanitarian
response during natural disasters and conflict?
Q2) During natural disasters and conflict, how
can diaspora communities be sure that
humanitarian actions are meeting needs and
upholding humanitarian principles?
Humanitarian Principles
Humanity: Human suffering must be addressed whenever it is found. The
purpose of humanitarian action is to protect life and health and ensure
respect for human beings.
Neutrality: Humanitarian actors must not take sides in hostilities or engage in
controversies of a political, racial, religious or ideological nature.
Impartiality: Humanitarian action must be carried out on the basis of need
alone, giving priority to the most urgent cases of distress and making no
distinctions on the basis of nationality, race, gender, religious belief, class or
political opinions.
Operational Independence: Humanitarian action must be independent of the
political, economic, military or other objectives that any actors may hold with
regard to areas where humanitarian action is being implemented.
Source: OCHA on Message: Humanitarian Principles, November 2011
The Case of Haiti and Diaspora
HHTAs and Support Groups Mapping
• There are about 350 active HHTAs and support groups in the US, Canada and France
***New Mega-Federations (post-earthquake):
– Haitian Diaspora Federation USA (May 2010) and EUROPE (October 2010)
– GRANH (CANADA May 2010) & GRANH Monde (multiple chapters around the world)
– Haitian Studies Association – Education committee
Existing Federations:
– AFHED (Boston)
– CENTRECH (Montreal)
– ROCAHD (Montreal)
Existing Departmental Associations:
– FEDASE (South HTAs NY)
– Nord’ Ouest Reuni (NY)
– Tourinord (NY)
– L’Artibonite Federation (NJ)
Facilitator and HHTAs support group
– Haitian Hometown Association Resource group (NY, Miami and Boston) started after
Fonkoze –IDB HHTAs workshop in 2007)
Profile of the HHTAs
HHTAs Strength
• Personal link
• Cultural affinity
• Knowledge of their hometown and
community leaders
• Experience with humanitarian effort
• Various experts across sectors are available for
short or long term engagement (young
professionals, mid-career and retired)
HHTAs Challenges
• Unknown or ignored by the international community or the
Haitian government (often undermined: examples of the
earthquake relief effort).
• Volunteer organizations under a lot of financial stress:
Disasters more frequent than diaspora can bear.
• Absence of disaster preparedness and recovery plan.
• No communication or information about:
– Existing programs: Who does what? Where? Who is
– What are the Haitian Success Stories that could be
– What to avoid?
Example: Haiti’s Earthquake
Missed Opportunity
Example (missed opportunity #1)
• Natural decentralization: After the earthquake, 300,000 + people
moved out of Port-au-Prince (see OCHA Map – natural
• From day 1 of the disaster, the diaspora was sending remittances to
support family and friends in their hometown.
• For weeks after the earthquake, Fonkoze was the only remittance
payer and faced a liquidity crisis: $2M was brought by plane from USA
account with the collaboration of USA Federal Reserve, US Army and
• For months HHTAs maintained camps, hosted families, distributed
sanitary kits, etc. Little or no effort was made by the international
community to include the diaspora in the disaster relief and recovery
Example (missed opportunity #2)
• Requests were made by the HHTARG to make the international
communities part of the relief and recovery efforts.
• Some HHTAs and diaspora groups participated in cluster meetings.
• Since HHTARG and the HHTAs were not accredited or recognized by
the UN, the requests were never considered.
• Results:
– 6 months after, the HHTAs were not able to maintain relief efforts.
– The displaced people went back to Port-au-Prince to take part in the
cash for work program (we have more people in P au P now than
before the earthquake).
How to Optimize
Start the dialogue now and take concrete action to involve
all stakeholders (including diaspora and local communities)
• Don’t wait for the next crisis – build trust and habit to
work together
• Engage local players
– By Haitian with Haitian if possible (staff and high
management. Too often only staff are hired and no
leadership level)
– Seek local buy-in
– Our presence on the ground is NOT always
How to Optimize
For long term sustainability:
Capacity building of the MHAVE (Ministère des Haitiens Vivants à l’étranger), local
communities and diaspora groups.
– Database of diaspora resources and projects.
– Reverse Migration: Structured program recruitment and accompaniment (short
and long term assignments) – Initiative since ’95, program relaunched in 2010.
• Mentoring and follow up of diaspora interventions.
• Facilitation or reintegration like housing, transportation, etc.
– Co-Development Program - Matching grants for diaspora projects that truly
originate from -and are supported by- the local community.
• 3x1 like Mexican cooperation.
– Support projects that could also be revenue-generating for the diaspora while
also helping local development (Korean Model ref Tatyana Wah).
– Develop Livelihood program with the HHTAs.
Pay Attention
• Many NGOs and businesses are not ready to build capacity of
migrant organizations. We have cases where:
– Simply used the HHTAs to get access to grant or data and didn’t
involve the diaspora for the execution.
– NGO or business hired the diaspora resources as staff to get expertise
and build their own organization to secure their funding while groups
were already working in the field.
“In reality we often don’t have a true partnership that involves the
diaspora organizations and treats them as equal partners.
Policy makers and people who design engagement programs need to
protect the migrant organizations from those free rider behaviors”
• Recognize the capacity of volunteer Diaspora organizations and
provide resources for the interventions; (Haiti and Philippines cases
to study)
• Diaspora are 1st responders in time of crisis. Partnerships with
Diaspora organizations are possible with training to understand
humanitarian principals , to define the roles of each stakeholders
and plan (structure) interventions;
• Open procurement process to the Diaspora for hiring opportunities
(Management and Staff) and for contracting opportunities.
• Include Diaspora in communication channels, events and clusters
• Develop long term economic development / livelihood programs
with the Diaspora and the local population; The Diaspora are there
for the long run (last to leave if they ever leave).
Thank you!
Let’s stay in touch
[email protected]
Twitter @katleenfelix
1. “Haiti’s Development, Expatriate Reconnection, Conditions and Challenge” de Dr.
Tatiana Wah, New School University, New York. Educa Vision 2003
2. “Haitians in New York City: Transnationalism and Hometown Associations” FRANCOIS
PIERRE-LOUIS, March 30, 2006
3. “Remittances in crises: A Haiti case study ” Researched, written and published by the
Humanitarian Policy Group at ODI, author: Patricia Fagen April 2006
4. Contribution des Haïtiens à l’édification du Québec moderne : Ces Québécois venus
d'Haïti, sous la direction de Samuel Pierre, PhD, de l’Association des ingénieurs et
scientifiques haïtiano-canadiens(AIHC), Presses internationales Polytechnique 2007
SERVICES IN HAITI” by Patricia Weiss Fagen With: Carlo Dade, Robert Maguire, Katleen
Felix, David Nicolas, Noriac Dathis and Katelin Maher, Georgetown University Prepared
for the Inter-American Development Bank, January 2009
6. “Construction d’une Haïti Nouvelle. Vision et contribution du GRAHN (Groupe de
réflexion et d’action pour une Haïti nouvelle) ” Samuel PIERRE, éditeur scientifique
Montréal, Presses internationales Polytechnique 2010 www.haiti-grahn.org or
References (2)
“PME et Entreprises Sociale en Haiti: quel est le role de la Microfiance et les ONG en regions
rurales ? “ By Katleen Felix and Julien Verona, Inca Production, 15 Juin 2012 page 52-57
Hillary Clinton’s Remarks at the Second Annual Global Diaspora Forum 2012 :
“Diaspora Invests in Haiti with Business Loans” By Katleen Felix IDEA Blog September 2012
11. “Engaging the Haitian Diaspora: Emigrant Skills and Resources are needed for Serious Growth and
development, not Just Charity” By Tatiana Wah, CAIRO REVIEW 9/2013
12. “Receiving Haitian Migrants in the Context of the 2010 Earthquake“ by Patricia Weiss Fagen,
Georgetown University, 3 December 2013
Can the Diaspora have a positive
and active impact?
Yes! various cases from the Haitian Diaspora confirmed this
– Haitian Hometown Associations (HHTAs) work in
Education, Heath, and productive activities (small scale
projects and investments)
– Fonkoze was founded by Father Joseph who has studied,
worked and leaved in the USA and Canada
• 1st loan capital was from ROCAHD
• We do have Diaspora Staff members at Fonkoze in Haiti
• But Fonkoze couldn’t get to this level only with the support of the
– Zafèn www.zafen.og (crowdfunding)

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