Panafrican News Agency

UN official calls for partnerships between Africans at home, Diaspora

New York, US (PANA) - Cheick Sidi Diarra, UN Special Adviser on Africa, on Thursday
stressed the importance of establishing partnerships and cooperation between Africa-based
decision makers and diaspora communities worldwide to work on shared issues to improve
the quality of life in Africa.

``There is now clear recognition that the African identity is a global one,” Diarra said at a
preparatory meeting in New York for the first African Diaspora Summit, slated to be held
in June in South Africa.

He said: ``People of African descent are dispersed to all parts of the world due to forced
migrations through slavery, colonialism and war and more recently to voluntary migrations
due to globalization''.

He noted that, ``these pockets of African people scattered around the world can now play
a significant role in Africa’s growth, development and empowerment''.

The UN official stated that, ``this will be the first time that the African Union (AU) will hold
a summit with Heads of States on the subject of diaspora'', adding that, ``the event seeks
to create partnerships between African legislators and legislators in diaspora communities

``The summit also aims to draw the attention of global decision makers to shared issues
between Africa and its diaspora communities, and to provide lawmakers with an
understanding of the challenges faced by each diaspora community, as well as enhance their capacity to lobby at national and regional levels,'' Diarra said.

According to him: ``Parliamentarians and other elected officials have an important role to play in shaping the policies of their countries. Their role is central when it comes to economic and social development as well as conflict prevention''.

``More importantly, diaspora parliamentarians can play a crucial role in influencing their countries' policies toward Africa,'' he said.

PANA reports that the preparatory meeting brings together parliamentarians from Africa and the diaspora as well as prominent civil society members, who will discuss the summit’s format, agenda, and a strategy that reflects the voices of all participants in the outcome document.

Last week, Diarra, who is also the UN High Representative For Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States, said that debt for landlocked developing countries (LDC), many of which are African, has decreased as a result of initiatives such as the ``Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative'' and ``the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative''.

But, he also stressed that much more needed to be done to prevent LDCs from being hurt by trade shocks due to commodity price volatility and other external factors.
-0- PANA AA/VAO 16Feb2012