Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi speaks during a WYF session on the role of world leaders in building and sustaining peace (Photo Courtesy of Egyptian Presidency spokesman)
On 6 November the session “Humanitarian assistance: Global responsibility in the face of challenges” discussed the challenges facing the voluntary sector and NGOs and the important role of young people in delivering humanitarian assistance.
Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali and the Representative of the UN Population Fund in Egypt Aleksandar Bodiroza were among the speakers.
Wali pointed out the importance of volunteering work in building communities. She reviewed the ministry’s own initiative Benna which trains volunteers to monitor the standards of care provided in a range of institutions
. “Volunteers play a leading role in building society, they are our partners in development,” she said.
According to Wali, the ministry’s programmes and initiatives, as described on its official website, offer volunteering opportunities to everyone.
“The ministry offers several programmes that benefit from volunteers. Youth play an important role in the success of humanitarian assistance and volunteer programmes,” she said.
Wali described several of the ministry’s programmes and interventions which depend mainly on volunteers, including the Fund for Combating and Treating Drug Addiction.
Some 27,000 volunteers work for the fund across the country, said Wali. Volunteers help the addict quit his or her addiction and aid addicts’ families rehabilitate them and overcome any crises they might face.
The coming phase, says Wali, will witness a huge leap in the use of information technology in the voluntary sector. “I have great faith in the impact of humanitarian assistance and volunteers.
Egypt has highly qualified cadres in software and programming. This will facilitate the process of humanitarian assistance, thus improving society,” said Wali.
“President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has agreed with NGOs’ representatives that the NGO law restricts their work. We are working on changing that,” added Wali.
The law, issued last year, penalises administrative violations by anyone working in an NGO and placed onerous conditions on the acceptance of donations and fundraising, effectively starving NGOs of funds.
Bodiroza stressed the importance of spreading a culture of volunteering as a social responsibility among young people.
“Volunteers play an important role across the globe. This is in addition to the prevalence of thousands of humanitarian assistance applications all over the world which help youth to adopt the concept of humanitarian assistance, volunteering and donation,” said Bodiroza.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 November, 2018 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly under the headline: Working together