In recent years, Qatar has become a prominent actor on both the regional and global humanitarian stage. Like other Gulf States, it also has a significant presence of overseas workers with a population of over 2.29 million and a thriving business and economy sector. Qatar is engaged in investments in a wide range of humanitarian and developmental sectors. Qatari leadership has pledged publicly to achieve and support global partnerships for the achievement of foreign countries’ Millennium Development Goals and to reduce suffering of victims of humanitarian crises. In particular, Qatar’s international aid program focuses heavily on the Arab world (most notably Syria, Gaza and Yemen) and its humanitarian assistance has expanded dramatically since the beginning of 2010.
Qatar was a member of the Top Donors Group (TDG) for Syria, participating in international humanitarian cooperation forums such as the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), and was a member of the advisory group for the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). In 2010, in collaboration with the Republic of Turkey and the Dominican Republic, the State of Qatar launched the ‘HopeFor’ initiative, aimed at improving the effectiveness and coordination of national military and civil defense assets to support the UN humanitarian emergency response system for large-scale natural disasters, and hosted the first of the three ensuing conferences. In 2016 Qatar joined Turkey Country Pool Fund (CPF).
Governmental humanitarian partners
The main governmental partner is the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), in particular theDepartment of International Development, established in 2009 and in charge of development and humanitarian affairs. In 2012, MOFA signed a humanitarian partnership agreement (LoU) with OCHA to expand collaboration and strengthen joint coordination and response to humanitarian crises, in particular establishing reciprocal consultations in areas such as humanitarian coordination and policy, information management and fund raising for disaster response. The agreement was the first of its kind in the Gulf region.
Other humanitarian actors
Qatar Fund for Development (QFD) is a public development institution committed, on behalf of the State of Qatar to provide humanitarian aid around the world. In 2016, QFD became the co-chair for the Pooled Fund Working Group.
Qatar Red CrescentSociety (QRCS) has provided assistance to the people of the Gaza Strip and has also been very active in organizing humanitarian activities for Syrian refugees.
Qatar Charityis one of the largest charitable non-governmental leading charities in GCC. It was established in 1992 to carry out humanitarian and development programs to fight global poverty all over the world. It has offices in eleven countries of the world, namely in Tanzania, Chad, Iran, India, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Lebanon, Turkey, Greece and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Themes of the projects include education, housing and infrastructure, water and wells, health and social welfare. In 2011 Qatar Charity signed with OCHA a Stand-By Partnership Agreement that aims at deploying Qatari experts in humanitarian emergencies around the world as part of OCHA.
The foundation Sheikh Thani Bin Abdullah for Humanitarian Services (RAF) carries out humanitarian work for relief and social development, both locally and internationally. The Center for Training and Civil Society Studies offers specialized training in the field of charitable and humanitarian work. In 2014 RAF signed with OCHA a Letter of Understanding (LoU) focused on capacity building and in August 2015 RAF signed with Qatar Foundation (QF) a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate towards common goals.
The Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) is a research institute member of the Qatar Foundation. QCRI has developed digital initiatives in support of the humanitarian system, such as the Artificial Intelligence for Disaster Response (AIDR) platform and the MicroMappers platform, developed in 2013 in partnership with OCHA and the Standby Task Force (STF). This innovative computing initiative collects all potentially relevant social media messages shared online in the critical hours, days and weeks that follow a humanitarian disaster and then brings together teams of digital volunteers around the world to categorize the content according to specific information needs. The MicroMappers initiative helped boost Nepal Earthquake Relief Efforts in April 2015. The QCRI also pioneered the Humanitarian UAV Network organization (‘UAViators’ initiative), a central organizing point for drone pilots looking to use their technological skills to help rescue efforts in the wake of a disaster.