The International Organization of Migration defines diaspora as “migrants or descendants of migrants whose identity and sense of belonging have been shaped by their migration experience and background”. Through that shared sense of belonging, diasporas are connected and contribute to both their country of residence and country of origin. The most recognized contributions are remittances, but diaspora members also have a huge untapped potential in terms of humanitarian relief, promoting trade, investments, innovation and knowledge and technology transfers. Their expertise, commitment and cultural knowledge of their country of origin are only a few factors that make it essential for IOM to recognize, empower, mobilize and include diaspora as powerful development actors. With over 30 years of experience, IOM is aware of the importance to continue the engagement of diaspora communities with their countries of origin through its global 3E strategic approach.

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Diaspora projects of IOM Belgium and Luxembourg

Half of the Belgian population with a migration background has origins outside of Europe and consists mostly of Maghreb and sub-Saharan African descendants. Not only these impressive statistics, but also their expertise, commitment, knowledge and skills make it essential for IOM Belgium and Luxembourg to involve the diaspora communities in the project activities. IOM Belgium and Luxembourg is fully aware of the huge potential and important role of diasporas communities in bridging migration and development and in effecting durable change. Our Country Office will therefore continue to establish links and engage with the various diaspora communities in Belgium and Luxembourg through IOM’s 3E strategy. Moreover, diaspora engagement has been included as one of the main pillars of our Country Office's national strategy.

Developed tools

In order to increase the awareness on the wonderful work of diaspora, IOM Belgium and Luxembourg developed two tools: the biannual Diaspora Engagement newsletter and the Diaspora Insights video podcast. Both tools aim to establish a space for dialogue and to create a platform by and for the diaspora. The episodes of the Diaspora Insights podcast will highlight the work of diaspora members and will foster a discussion on key topics of interest. Have a look at the newsletters and episode below! Are you interested in receiving our Diaspora Newsletter twice a year?

Subscribe! Past editions are available below.

Diaspora Advisory Board

The Diaspora Advisory Board (DAB) is a place of cooperation and co-creation between diaspora members and IOM Belgium and Luxembourg. Members can connect, learn and engage in relevant diaspora-related activities with IOM, diaspora organizations and other stakeholders while working towards the materialization of (project) ideas.​

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Engaging diasporas for IOM Belgium and Luxembourg goes beyond creating projects that directly benefit diasporas. It is also about including their views as early as the conceptualization of projects, offering diasporas a safe platform to co-create and to talk about diaspora matters, as well as encouraging and enabling diasporas to mobilize skills, knowledge and expertise. To facilitate this in a structural manner, after our survey highlighted that there was a great demand from the diasporas as well, we founded the Diaspora Advisory Board.

We meet bi-annually and organize ad-hoc thematic meetings when the Diaspora Advisory Board members indicate their interest. The DAB's work is guided by 4 principles: exchange, cooperation, co-creation and effective action.

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Current Projects

Engagement of Rwandan diaspora residing in Europe for the TVET and Health sector of Rwanda (2019 - 2023). The project aims to address the needs of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) sector in Rwanda through the engagement of highly skilled diaspora members residing in Europe. Through Trainings of Trainers (ToT), the Rwandan diaspora men and women will build the capacity of TVET professors and students in priority courses of the Rwanda Polytechnic’s host institutions (IPRCs) across the country. The Rwandan diaspora professionals will also provide support (to the development of) start-ups, initiated together with and/or by the trained professors and students. With the support of the IOM Development Fund, the scope of the project was extended to also include the Rwandan health sector, by engaging highly skilled diaspora members residing in Belgium, Germany, UK, France and the Netherlands for capacity building and skills transfer activities to i.e. local medical practitioners. Read more about the project here

You can watch the vlogs here.

Past projects

MIDA project (2001 - 2012). The Government of Belgium supported between 2001 and 2012 the implementation of the four phases of IOM’s Migration for Development (MIDA) project. The activities aimed to mobilize resources from African diaspora communities residing in Belgium for the sustainable development of the countries in the Great Lakes region (DRC, Rwanda, Burundi). Through the organization of missions, diaspora experts were engaged in transferring their competences and knowledge to institutions in their country of origin. The interventions took mainly place in the sectors of health, rural development and education and training. The MIDA project also supported the capacity building of national institutions and departments to strengthen their diaspora engagement activities. Take a look at IOM's MIDA Make a Move video here!

MEDMA project (2007, 2012 - 2015). The project “Mobilizing Moroccans Residing Abroad for Morocco” started with a study in 2007, which was carried out by IOM with the support of the Belgian Government. The project defines strategic objectives to support the social economy in the Northern region of Morocco through the promotion of the private sector, entrepreneurship and business creation by foreign Moroccans residing in Belgium. Based on these findings, a second phase was initiated (2012 – 2015) through which selected Moroccan diaspora members in Belgium were accompanied and guided in investing in sectors in Morocco, such as health, services, tourism and logistics. The project also supported the creation of mechanisms and tools to maximize the efficiency and impact of diaspora investments. Check out the flyer that was created in the context of the project here.

Rwandan diaspora mapping (2018). The Government of Rwanda is well aware of the potential of its diaspora in the economic development of Rwanda. To realize this full potential, the Government of Rwanda launched, together with the IOM missions in the respective countries, a mapping exercise of its diaspora in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom to better understand the conditions and factors necessary to engage diaspora in the country's development process. The mapping report is available here.

Women4Dev Academy (2018 - 2019). This project aimed to strengthen the role of African diaspora women's associations located in Belgium as effective agents in the development of their country of origin. Through a tailored capacity-building program, the 11 selected associations improved their skills on project cycle management, increasing communication and visibility, and financial management. For more info on the project, click here and have a look at the interviews below.

Support to circular and temporary migration of Mauritanian diaspora. The EU-funded initiative, implemented by IOM Mauritania, aims to temporarily move 20 qualified diaspora members to support of capacity-building and skills development of public institutions in their country of origin. For more info about the outreach session organized in Brussels (June 2019) for Mauritanian diaspora, click here.

Ad-hoc support

The ARISE ALL project is a project that aims to raise awareness among Albanian citizens considering irregular migration in Europe. To do so, the project will, on one hand, shed light to the risks of irregular migration and on the other hand, provide information on existing economic and educational opportunities in Albania and the regular migration channels to Europe. In order to achieve this, a network of 14 motivated “influencers” who come from specific areas of Albania and diaspora from the Netherlands and Belgium has been established to assist the incredible team of IOM Albania. They will sensitize the population through events, social networks, mini projects, video messages, etc. For more info click here.

Global Diaspora Virtual Exchange. The COVID-19 pandemic has a firm grip on the everyday lives of people across the world. The scale and devastating impact of this crisis calls for new levels of coordination and collaboration between various actors, such as governments and local communities. Diaspora groups are not only often the first to respond but their political, social, cultural and human capital coupled with their in-depth knowledge of the country, its norms and languages, put them in the ideal position for a more targeted and tailored response.

The first Global Diaspora Exchange, organized by IOM and iDiaspora in coordination with large umbrella diaspora organizations, such as ADEPT, ADNE and Demac, brought together diaspora from all over the world to share experiences and best practices, bring attention to their valuable work and foster cross-community collaboration. The events took place in English (22nd of April), French (20th of May) and Spanish (10th of June) and their results can be found on the iDiaspora website.

IOM Belgium and Luxembourg supported iDiaspora and IOM’s Diaspora Unit in the outreach to local diaspora organizations for their participation in this Global Exchange. The President of the Rwandese Diaspora Organization in Belgium also participated in the Exchange as a speaker and explained the Organization’s efforts in the COVID-19 relief in Rwanda.

Joint Statement in Solidarity with those Facing Xenophobia due to COVID-19 and Global Diaspora Coalition . Following the Global Diaspora Virtual Exchange two concrete actions took form. First of all, various diaspora organizations emphasized the need to address recent xenophobic acts directed towards refugees, migrants and diaspora who, due to misinformation and raising tensions, are scapegoated for the spread of COVID-19. More than 230 diaspora organizations signed the Joint Statement. Furthermore, the signatories and other interested organizations committed to continue their efforts in addressing the challenges arising the COVID-19 situation, by forming a Global Diaspora Confederation. IOM Belgium and Luxembourg is committed to provide ad-hoc support to the work of the GDC.

Diaspora Events & Calls

For more info and for diaspora requests (share a diaspora call/event on this page or on our social media, speaking invitation for events, ad-hoc support), please contact our diaspora focal point Anke Van de Velde:


iDiaspora provides a platform to share your voice, to gain knowledge, and to engage with the global community committed to the importance of diaspora. Click here to visit the website.


Becoming a member of iDiaspora will bring you closer with diaspora and expatriate communities globally for sharing your work with others, but also finding inspiration and new opportunities. You will have access to regularly updated news, relevant resources, learning and funding opportunities.


From research to training materials, groups around the world are creating resources for transnational communities. iDiaspora aims to bring together resources from variety of partners in one place in order to help individuals and organizations in diaspora get the information they need to effectively engage as developmental actors.


There are many ways to give back but its not always easy to find an outlet for our efforts. iDiaspora aims to link those that want to make a difference with concrete opportunities to forge a better future.