Voices across borders

Download Voices across borders hereInternational Alert is calling for greater engagement between the UK government and diasporas, in order to improve peace and development.

Our new report, Voices across borders, looks at how the UK government and some diaspora communities engage with each other on issues affecting people’s “countries of origin”. It also looks at how conflicts in these countries impact the lives of those living in the UK.

The report is based on the experiences of the Congolese, Pakistani, Somali and Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora communities in the UK, as well as staff in the EU and UK governments.

On Thursday, politicians, civil society organisations and diaspora community members came together to discuss the research at an event at the House of Commons organised in partnership with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Conflict Issues, which was chaired by Lord McConnell.

Lord McConnell stressed how important it is for policymakers to understand ‘the positive contributions that diaspora communities could play in how the UK supports peace in countries suffering war and conflict.’ He also highlighted the need for diasporas ‘to understand more about how decision making is made within the UK and represent diverse views where they exist.’

One of the participants commented that 'Any migrant, any refugee, any asylum seeker is divided between the old land and the new land. Conflict happening in Pakistan, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Congo is definitely affecting us here.'

Phil Champain, Director of Emerging Programmes at Alert, reflected that there is a fear among diasporas ‘that the government is sometimes paying lip service to their needs, and views them as a security threat rather than collaborators.’

‘The research and discussions this evening,’ he said, ‘have shown that there is a willingness to work on how diaspora communities and the UK government can engage so that suspicions about the UK government’s motives in many countries can be reduced amongst diasporas and peace efforts strengthened.'

The research for the report was carried out by Alert with local partner organisations: Centre for Good Relations, Community Accord, Community Resolve, Conflict & Change and University of the West of England.

To find out more about this research, read the report here.