Afghan diaspora program in Sweden
More than five million Afghan nationals are residing outside their country of origin, forming a growing number of Afghan diaspora organizations that implement activities in the fields of integration, awareness raising, human rights and humanitarian aid and aim to contribute to peacebuilding, reconstruction and the solution to the conflict4. There are many individual professionals as well as more then 134 organizations run by Afghan diasporas in Sweden. If mobilized they might have great potential for contribution to achieve sustained peace and development in Afghanistan. The lack of vertical and horizontal linkages, both among the afghan diasporas, Swedish civil society, development cooperation and non-existence of a mechanism or network that can improve and facilitate these linkages as well as mobilize, or and coordinate the engagement of Afghan diasporas in the development cooperation, identified as one of the key challenges by the participants. For raising awareness and increasing understanding of the added value of the afghan diasporas in humanitarian assistance and development cooperation, of the decision makers and afghan diasporas and gap of effective engagement of diasporas in the development cooperation can be addressed by awareness rising, advocacy and lobbying to decision maker in Sweden for including the Afghan diasporas as part of the development cooperation, where the networking for effective collaboration among diasporas and their engagement in both advocacy in the country of residence and humanitarian work and development cooperation will be addressed through establishment of the network of Afghan diaspora:
1. Lobbying and Advocacy for inclusion of Afghan Diaspora in Development Cooperation:
BRD has already engaged in raising awareness of the decision makers on the added value of afghan diaspora in the development cooperation, such both at the government of Sweden such SIDA and the MoFA and other stakeholders such Swedish organizations working in Afghanistan. BRD as part of Swedish civil society had this the privilege of its recent engagement in the consultation of the New Sweden strategy to Afghanistan (220-2024), on its inputs and comment provided to SIDA, FBA both written and in meeting has clearly highlighted the recognition of the added value of Afghan diasporas in humanitarian work and development cooperation and need to include in Sweden upcoming development cooperation strategy for Afghanistan.
BRD at the Consultation Meeting on Afghan Diasporas Engagement Policy by the Government of Afghanistan
BRD was part of the consultation meeting on Afghan Diaspora National Engagement Policy with Afghan Government delegation at the side event supported by DRC in Copenhagen, BRD welcomed the development of ADNEF clearly highlighted the need for more support for facilitated diaspora both in Afghanistan and improvement of coordination and communication channels among the diasporas and the responsible people of the government at the Afghan embassies’ in European Countries.
2. Establishment of the Network of Afghan Diaspora in Sweden:
The network can mobilize and facilitate the effective engagement of afghan diasporas in the development activities for Afghanistan, which can add extra resources to the development cooperation and will also provide real insight on issue related to Afghanistan in major policy dialogues and discussions, including media within Sweden. The network will also include a pool of Afghan experts, which can also be used as sources of information and expertise on issue relevant to Afghanistan.
The Network of Afghan Diasporas in Sweden is envisaged to be a mechanism through which afghan diasporas in Sweden will be able to actively engage in development cooperation to contribute toward building sustainable peace, humanitarian work and socio-economic development of Afghanistan and serve as platform for effective lobbying and policy advocacy on issues related to Afghanistan in Sweden, in collaboration with other key actors.
In order to get clear understandings of the needs, interests for the network of key organizations, private sector, diasporas and know about the key challenges and lessons learnt from similar networks. BRD has conducted pre-assessment and consultation with key stakeholders, private sector as well as somalkian diasporas, who are the most active diasporas in Sweden, the result of the initial assessment an consultation has clearly stated the needs and interest for the establishment of Afghan diaspora network in Sweden.
2.2. Development of Network ToR;
The diaspora network TOR has been developed, outlining the purpose, objectives structure and function of the network. Consultation discussion, have been made with some diaspora organizations, Swedish organizations, such as Forum Syed, Ax Foundation, Mumtaz Integration, Danish Refugee Council, and it was also highlighted in the Network meeting. SIDA head of Unit was also informed about the initiative and also ToR was shared. We have identified potential diaspora organization and we also received the list from DRC, we will consolidate those lists. The next step would be to organize the first diaspora meeting to discuss and finalize the ToR and establish the network: The challenges are: Funding to support the first meeting to bring organization from different part of Sweden, we have approached DRC, Post Code Foundation for support but it was not successful. The draft ToR has been distributed to some of the stakeholders, private sectors, SIDA, DRC and the some of individual diasporas and associations, where most of the responses and comments received were positives.
Awareness Raising on the role of diasporas and consultation on ToR of Diaspora Network:
For raising awareness of Afghan diasporas on their relative role in humanitarian work and development cooperation, including on the consultation on the ToR of the diaspora network to be established in Sweden. BRD has planned series of consultation meetings with diasporas in larger cities in Sweden, through its focal points in each city. This meeting will also facilitate the discussion on the ToR and also selection of organization who will participate in the meeting for lunching the diaspora network in Sweden.
Organizing Network Establishment Meeting
After completion of consultation and awareness raising the representatives of the diaspora’s organization from the different cities of Sweden will be invited to participated in a network meeting in Stockholm a long with key observers’ organization such Forum Syd, DRC, SIDA and other if interested. The purpose of this meeting will be finalizing the ToR, elect the coordination committee of the network and official launch the afghan diaspora network in Sweden.
Development of Network Strategy:
After the establishment of the afghan diaspora network, the coordination committee will work to develop 3-year strategy, to direct the diaspora activities in the upcoming 3 years.