The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Fiji, in partnership with the Fijian Government, convened a “Roundtable Dialogue on Strengthening Fiji’s Diaspora Engagement” to nurture partnerships for increased opportunities on effective diaspora engagement to enable over 235,000 Fijians living abroad to contribute to Fiji’s development.

The dialogue held yesterday in Suva, is a culmination of ongoing collaboration between IOM and the Fijian Government as part of “Engaging with Diaspora for Fiji’s Development,” a project initiated in 2019. Representatives of international organizations, government ministries, diaspora organizations and associations, and civil society organization took part in the dialogue.

In his remarks at the official opening of the dialogue, Chief of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Fiji, Mr Solomon Kantha said IOM would continue to build on the momentum borne through the project – and the outcome of today’s Roundtable Dialogue will complement the Fijian Government’s efforts to develop and finalize the framework and mechanisms for strengthening engagements with the Fijian diaspora, worldwide.

Mr Kantha said the dialogue augurs well with the Global Diaspora Summit held this year in Dublin, Ireland, which recommended that member countries strengthen diaspora engagements by institutionalizing diaspora associations and formalizing diaspora engagement through a consistent policy framework.

He thanked the Fijian Government for its commitment to the project and reaffirmed IOM’s support to Fiji in developing diaspora engagement policy and strategies to deepen engagements of the Fijian diaspora for Fiji’s national development.

The dialogue highlighted that the largest community of Fijians abroad reside in Australia- which is home to over 80,000 Fijians, followed by New Zealand with 65,000 Fijians, over 50,000 live in United States and over 26,000 in Canada and over 6000 in the United Kingdom; and there are Fijian communities residing in the Pacific Islands. The Fijian diaspora’s contributions to Fiji in times of need particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disaster was also acknowledged at the dialogue. It also featured presentations by Fijian diaspora leaders on potential opportunities and initiatives for greater collaboration with Fiji.

Speaking at the official opening program, Director for the Fijian Department of Immigration, Mrs Amelia Komaisavai conveyed the Fijian Government’s appreciation to IOM for its support in this joint effort on Fijian diaspora.

She emphasised that the Fijian diaspora plays an important role in supporting Fiji’s national recovery efforts and that it’s important to have a whole-of-government and society approach in the process of diaspora engagement. Additionally, Mrs Komaisavai said there are many successful examples of diaspora engagements around the world, where diaspora have made long-term and long-lasting contributions towards the development of their country, through Government led, structured and targeted policies and initiatives.

She said by drawing on these experiences and with the assistance of development partners like the IOM, Fiji aspires to establish collaborative networks and strengthen Fiji’s engagement with our Fijian diaspora, worldwide.