Armenian Delegation Discusses Diaspora Engagement Strategies for Children and Local Development in Ireland

On October 26-30, UNICEF organized a study trip to Ireland for 14 representatives of governmental and non-governmental organizations with the purpose of examining Ireland’s unique hybrid public-private partnership model of diaspora engagement and leveraging diaspora and migrants’ support for child-oriented reforms in Armenia.

The visit was organized in the framework of the EU-funded “Mitigating social consequences of labour migration and maximizing migrants’ involvement in local development” project.

 

The delegates included representatives from the RA Ministry of Diaspora, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President’s Office, National Assembly, Government of Armenia, Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, Ministry of Education and Science, Lori region’s Governor’s Office, as well as diaspora-related organizations, such as IDeA Foundation, Howard Karagheusian Commemorative Corporation, Society for Orphaned Armenian Relief, and Mission East Armenia.

 

In the course of the week, the delegates were exposed to a wide range of prominent speakers presenting various aspects of diaspora engagement ranging from support to children and youth, business and start-ups to local development and culture. The Irish model of diaspora engagement has mutual trust, benefit and partnership at its base, which allow for harnessing of diaspora potential for the development of the country, including child-oriented social spheres.

 

On 28 October, the Minister for the Diaspora of Ireland, Mr. Jimmy Deenihan, hosted the Armenian delegation and presented Ireland’s newly adopted Diaspora policy: “We like not only sharing our experience, but also learning from other countries. The policy is very much focused on welfare, especially for those who are challenged and vulnerable. This two way approach in diaspora engagement, i.e. targeting both the successful and the vulnerable members of the diaspora, as well as the public and private sector, has brought about strong and structured links and cooperation between the diaspora and the country.”

 

According to the CEO of Diaspora Matters, Mr. Kingsley Aikins, the question of “What can we do for the diaspora rather than what the diaspora can do for us?” has been key in building mutuality and trust between the two. Moreover, he emphasized the importance of the place or a certain locality rather than the whole country, when engaging with the diaspora, as well as the pivotal role of networking in any diaspora engagement initiatives. Finally, the development and use of professional networks should not be underestimated, as they provide venues for concrete discussions and allow for innovation and excellence.

 

“The study trip was very useful for the Armenian context, as the Irish experience in diaspora engagement is very relevant and similar to the one of Armenia. We will review our existing policies, make them more modern and goal-oriented, particularly in the area of attracting diaspora investments,” said Mr. Stepan Petrosyan, Advisor to the Minister of Diaspora of Armenia.

 

With the support of the EU, the delegates and the Diaspora Matters consultancy firm, UNICEF will continue the dialogue on effective diaspora engagement for development and child-oriented reforms, capitalizing on the results of the study trip and aiming to engage diaspora members in their communities and vice versa.

 

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The “Social Response to Labour Migration in Armenia” project, funded by the EU for a total amount of around 1 million euros, comprises a number of activities that promote better use of migrants’ and diaspora’s financial and intellectual resources in their communities, development and implementation of community-based social projects that address the needs of migrants’ families, improvement of skills and cooperation among various social services to provide better support to affected families, particularly within the framework of the Integrated Social Services reform.

 

For more information, please, contact:

 

UNICEF Armenia Communication Officer Zara Sargsyan

Phone: +37410 580 174

zsargsyan@unicef.org