OCHA's Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA) is putting renewed emphasis on enhancing partnerships with regional, national and non-governmental actors across the region. The aim of these partnerships is to strengthen cooperation on regional- and country-level preparedness, and to ensure the understanding and complementarity of the international humanitarian system with national and regional mechanisms.
OCHA's partnership work in the region includes:
- Working with Governments and National Disaster Management Offices to raise awareness of both giving and receiving humanitarian assistance. This includes trainings, workshops and simulations that seek to enhance dialogue, build capacity and test preparedness levels.
- Working with the League of Arab States (LAS) to ensure better preparedness for emergencies and resilience for local communities, building capacity to respond to humanitarian needs, exchange of expertise, resource mobilization and joint advocacy.
- Facilitating and participating in the Inter-Agency Group on Emergency Preparedness and Response (MENA Group). The MENA Group is a regional coordination mechanism amongst UN agencies, donors, Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs, focused on enhancing collaboration on emergency preparedness, humanitarian response and partnerships in the region.
- Working with regional NGOs on policy development, exchange of expertise and lessons learned, capacity building and promoting better coordination in the region.
- Engaging with humanitarian donors worldwide with an interest in the region.
- Increasing outreach to academia involved in humanitarian research and the private sector companies seeking to contribute to humanitarian operations.
- Working with a variety of country level military actors to ensure enhanced cooperation between civilian and military actors in humanitarian response in the region.
Plan of Action with the League of Arab States
In May 2013, the Secretariat General of the League of Arab States (LAS) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), signed a joint Plan of Action that reinforces cooperation on humanitarian issues.
The Plan of Action was signed by Ambassador Faeqa Saeed Al-Saleh, LAS Assistant Secretary-General and Head of Social Affairs Sector, and Mr. Rashid Khalikov, the Director of OCHA, Geneva.
The Plan of Action builds on previous collaboration with LAS under a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2010 and is an opportunity to take the partnership one step further in the effort to address humanitarian needs in the region. The joint Plan of Action sets out a framework for regular dialogue and exchange of information between the two organizations, and provisions for closer coordination in humanitarian response. The Plan also focuses on ensuring better preparedness for emergencies and resilience for local communities, building capacity to respond to humanitarian needs, exchange of expertise, resource mobilisation and joint advocacy.
The partnership stems from LAS’ important contribution to raising awareness on human suffering, mobilizing funds and supporting projects in many humanitarian crises. In March 2013, the Secretary General, Dr. Nabil Al-Araby, appointed a Special Envoy of the Arab League Secretary General on Humanitarian Affairs and Relief, Shiekha Hessa Al Thani, a sign of the importance that humanitarian affairs are now given within LAS.
The partnership is also a recognition that addressing humanitarian needs in the Arab region cannot be done by one entity alone. The challenge is simply too big for any one organization. Thus, there is a need to forge new and lasting partnerships, based on trust and mutual respect, that increase the ability of organizations to prepare more effectively, and when emergencies happen, respond to people’s needs.
As highlighted by Ambassador Faeqa Al Saleh at the signing ceremony: “By working together and building on each other’s strengths, we can better respond to the many humanitarian challenges we are facing in the region…Together, the UN and LAS can save more lives and better alleviate human suffering”.