Between 22 and 24 October 2009 Islamic Relief contributed together with other members of the international community to celebrate the European Development days, which was this year held in Stockholm, Sweden.
The European Development Days provide a platform for political leaders, NGOs, business leaders, academics and the media to discuss issues of global importance. This year’s event brought together 5,000 people from 125 countries to debate key global problems; the response to the economic downturn and climate change.
Islamic Relief was in attendance at the event with a stand promoting our relief and development projects around the world, emphasising our work in the field of microfinance. Islamic Relief has pioneered the use of financing techniques in development and has been providing Islamic microfinance for over a decade, helping some of the poorest communities and those worst affected by the recession to become economically self-sufficient.
The event offered an excellent opportunity for Islamic Relief staff from across Europe to discuss the work and aims of the organisation with other NGOs, government development agencies, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, think tanks and international organisations. In particular, Islamic Relief was very honoured to receive the visit of Secretary-general of the Arab League Mr Amr Moussa, EC Commissioner Mr Karel de Gucht and Swedish Minister for Development Cooperation Ms Gunilla Carlsson.
In celebration of Islamic Relief’s 25th Anniversary an exhibition of images from our projects in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Kenya and Yemen were shown in the main hall of the European Development Days. Taken by world-renowned photographers Stefano Massimo and Shaista Chishty, the photographs demonstrate the impact of Islamic Relief’s microfinance projects to help lift people out of poverty.
Currently 20 million people across East Africa are facing severe food shortages caused by recurrent drought. The photos taken in Kenya show how, with a little help, people affected by the drought can make a sustainable living and feed their families. Speaking at the event the CEO of Islamic Relief Saleh Saeed said, “Islamic Relief was established 25 years ago in response to the famines in Eastern Africa. It is shocking that while we are celebrating this milestone in our history, the same issues are blighting this area of the world once more.”
Saleh Saeed said, “Having just returned from Mandera in northern Kenya I have seen how the food shortages are affecting vulnerable communities who are struggling as their animals die and their pasture withers. But I have also seen green oases where Islamic Relief has helped people to irrigate their land, grow crops and set up their own businesses, and I know with more support the impact can be even greater.”