Islamic Humanitarianism? The evolving role of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation in Somalia and beyond

The Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC)’s humanitarian role dates back to the war in Bosnia- Herzegovina in the mid-1990s. Since then the organisation’s humanitarian portfolio has grown considerably, and its humanitarian function has been institutionalised in the Islamic Cooperation Humanitarian Affairs Department (ICHAD), established in 2008. ICHAD and the OIC’s Ten- Year Programme of Action (OIC-TYPOA) are both illustrative of the organisation’s intention to strengthen its involvement in humanitarian action.

The OIC’s humanitarian response to the famine in Somalia in 2011 is the organisation’s biggest and best-known relief operation to date. Its involvement was diverse, including roles as a diplomatic actor, a technical and operational actor and a donor. Most notable perhaps is the OIC’s – or more precisely ICHAD’s – role as coordinator of the OIC Coalition, which at one point comprised around 40 Islamic aid agencies and civil society organisations.

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