Mr./Madam President, dear colleagues,

I fully agree with Mr. Pisco when he states that diasporas are a widely unused potential when it comes to improving societal structures and practices both in their home countries and countries of origin. This excellent report promoting a European policy on diasporas includes pertinent arguments for empowering diasporas on a national and a global scale.

This Assembly has debated the challenges of integration many times. I think diasporas could play an important part here. As Mr. Pisco rightly points out, diasporas can facilitate the integration of newly arrived migrants by helping them to cope with psychological factors relating to language barriers, loss of usual social networks, legal uncertainty and inequality of access to social welfare. Confidence-building helps to build an identity, which in turn is crucial for integration. Coupled with faster and smother integration processes, this could be one solution for us to move away from institutionalizing migrants and instead have new contributors to more prosperous, equal and well societies. I strongly support the idea of more inclusive processes for integration with the involvement of diasporas.

The report mentions several examples of good practice. I would like to add to this list. For more than ten years, Finland has successfully supported an IOM project, by which Somali health care professionals in Finland have trained their counterparts in Somalia. The focus has been on maternal and child health care, but the program has also helped to strengthen educational skills in the country.

Initiated by the Somali diaspora in Finland, the project has sent nearly 160 health care workers of Somali origin to Somalia. Over ten years the quality of health care has improved in Somaliland and Puntland with the introduction of an intensive care unit and a dental clinic. The infant mortality rate has decreased with 90 % in the main hospital in the area. The Somali community is one of the largest diasporas in Finland and this project clearly shows the benefits and added value of involving the diaspora in rebuilding the country of origin.

Empowering diasporas benefits us all and the Assembly can play a role here by bringing different stakeholders together for a more equal and prosperous future.