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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Qatar ramps up efforts with new UN humanitarian office

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The new United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Qatar is set to deal with humanitarian action and needs. 

Qatar and the United Nations (UN) have signed an agreement to establish a UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Doha, as authorities ramp up reform efforts in the Gulf state.

Th Permanent Representative of Qatar to the United Nations Ambassador Sheikha Alya Ahmed bin Saif Al-Thani and Under Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock were present at the signing ceremony on behalf of Qatar and the UN respectively.

“Had the great pleasure of signing on behalf of the Government of the State of #Qatar the establishment of @UNOCHA office in Doha with USG @UNReliefChief” tweeted Sheikha Alya.

The Doha-based office aims to support the UN mission to coordinate global humanitarian action and field operations around the world through partnerships with national and international actors.

Read also: Powerhouses: The women taking centre stage in shaping Qatar today

It will also establish effective and principled humanitarian action, defend humanitarian rights, raise awareness, and facilitate sustainable solutions.

In recent years, Qatar has emphasised its goals to remain heavily involved in humanitarian crises, continuously contributing with financial and medical aid to countries such as Palestine, Syria, Sudan, and Myanmar.

Doha has also participated and facilitated numerous mediation efforts with other countries to help resolve conflict – the most recent of which is the Afghan peace process as well as the US-Iran nuclear deal.

In 2018, Qatar opened an International Labour Organisation office in Doha to implement a comprehensive program to ensure the rights of labourers in Qatar, stepping up its commitments to address global concerns.

Read also: Dialogue with Qatar ‘more effective than boycott’, senior ILO official says

Last year, Qatar announced major historic labour reforms that introduced a new minimum wage for workers, dismantled the controversial ‘kafala system,’ and abolished the ‘No Objection Certificate,’ which allows workers to change jobs without needed the permission of their former employers.

A WhatsApp service was also introduced earlier this month to provide information on labour laws and regulation in six different languages.

In an exclusive interview with Doha News the former head of the ILO office in Qatar said the reforms need to be praised.

“Qatari authorities need to be recognised for the difficult decisions that they’ve made, for the laws they have adopted and for their ambitious labour reform agenda,” Houtan Homayounpour said.

“Having said that, it is also a fact that the picture is not a rosy picture. There are challenges that still remain, so we look forward to continue to work with the Qatari authorities and our partners,” he added.


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