More than 60 Islamic non-governmental organisations gathered in Senegal this week met with leaders of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) who agreed that it would play a greater role in providing humanitarian assistance to Islamic countries.
“This is a historic moment in the history of the OIC and the Islamic Ummah in general,” said OIC Assistant Secretary General Atta Manane Bakhit at the closing of a three-day conference on 9 March, held before the start of the full OIC summit in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
“It marks a new page in cooperation between humanitarians, governments, and international organisations.”
The conference, the first of its kind according to organisers, closed with a joint statement calling on governments throughout the Islamic world to support humanitarian NGOs in their countries. The OIC pledged to create a centre to analyse humanitarian needs in OIC countries. It also said it would establish more formal links with NGOs.
Some 60 percent of all refugees in the world are in Islamic countries, according to the OIC.
Although Bakhit said Islamic NGOs should focus first on humanitarian problems facing the Islamic countries, he pledged that the OIC and NGOs would also work with the wider humanitarian community.
“We are part of the bigger community of humanitarian organisations worldwide,” he said. “We think we can add value.”
“We will work transparently and clearly and we are ready to cooperate with anyone,” Bakhit said.
The meeting was attended by observers from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the European Union, and non-OIC countries.