DIHAD concludes a successful 2017 edition

Thu 23-03-2017 19:00 PM

DUBAI, 23rd March, 2017 (WAM) -- The 14th edition of Dubai International Humanitarian and Development Conference and Exhibition, DIHAD, concluded its three-day agenda on Thursday at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

DIHAD 2017 has witnessed several important initiatives, campaigns, events, and partnerships that co-ordinate stances and joint programmes to alleviate the suffering of children in disasters, conflicts and wars.

"The UAE Government has been incredibly active in raising awareness for the global refugee crisis and in encouraging actors from all sectors to play their part. The #FlyForPeace campaign at DIHAD, in which Syrian orphaned refugees depict their vision of peace on kites, is Bilqees Sarwar’s Foundation answer to this call. It embraces the value of art as a therapeutic outlet to process trauma. Designing and flying kites is an empowering way of expression among child refugees. It is shown in research that flying kites, in particular, provides a sense of freedom; it represents a life without borders and is a powerful symbol of limitless possibilities," said Oliver Freeman from the Bilqees Sarwar Foundation.

This year saw the first-ever hackathon held at the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid Exhibition and Conference, and managed by the World Food Programme/United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot LAB Dubai.

Seventeen computer programmers and behavioural neuroscience students jointly developed a unique software application to aid children in crisis globally, called "SMILE." The developers worked skilfully under the guidance of experienced professors from the Rochester Institute of Technology and WFP/UNHRD employees experienced in humanitarian and development aid.

The app, "SMILE," provides specific services to educators to increase their awareness of behavioural abnormalities that children in crisis could suffer from.

Dr. Yousef Al Assaf, Dean of Rochester Institute of Technology, said, "RIT Dubai is proud to support the DIHAD 2017 Hackathon, run in conjunction with WFP–UNHRD. It is an excellent initiative and as a long-term partner of WFP, we are well aware of the important and life-changing work the programme does. This initiative combines the academic and technical expertise of our faculty and students to offer real life solutions and research that make a difference in the world."

Abdullah Al Wardat, Director of the WFP UAE and GCC, said, "The World Food Programme, WFP, is pleased to have the opportunity to showcase at this hackathon a life event that can impact the well-being of children in crisis. The app ‘SMILE’ will gradually counteract to various vulnerabilities and promote emotional intelligence as part of an all-encompassing education. Further, we are honoured to play a role in preparing students to contribute to the sustainability challenges of today."

The winner of the Red Cross & Red Crescent competition on innovation was also announced at DIHAD. The Lebanese Red Cross received the award from the IFRC Secretary General Elhaj As Sy for its creative proposal on "using humanitarian values towards a culture of non-violence and peace."

The conference this year discussed critical topics, including How to Better Address the Often-Time Irreparable Damage Caused to Children in Conflict Situations and Children; Abuse and Exploitation, to name a few.

DIHAD is organised annually by INDEX Conferences and Exhibitions member of INDEX Holding and supported by Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Est, the United Nations, the UAE Red Crescent, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, International Humanitarian City, and OCHA-United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Dubai Cares.