Dáil Éireann - Volume 443 - 14 June, 1994

Written Answers. - Evacuation of Irish Citizens from Yemen.

43. Ms McManus asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to concerns expressed by the family of a person (details supplied) who experienced dissatisfaction at the attitude of his Department to the concerns for his safety and their efforts to ensure that he would get safely out of Yemen; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): The person to [1471] whom the Deputy refers was one of 33 Irish citizens known to have been in Yemen when civil war broke out there early in May.

As there is no Irish diplomatic or consular mission in that country, my Department immediately asked the foreign ministries of several of our EU partners, including those of France and Germany, for their assistance in ensuring the safety and, if necessary, the evacuation of Irish citizens. These ministries extended their full co-operation and 24 Irish citizens are known to have been evacuated. The person named by the Deputy was evacuated to Djibouti on 10 May on a flight arranged by the German authorities. There is no Irish mission in Djibouti and most of our people evacuated to there were helped by the French authorities who arranged onward flights to Paris. I understand that, unlike most others, the person referred to by the Deputy did not go to Paris but instead travelled to Abu Dhabi. We are not aware of dissatisfaction on the part of his family about the handling of the case; however if there are aspects that they would wish to discuss with us, we would be glad to hear from them.

I would emphasise to the Deputy that in situations of crisis our priority is the evacuation of our citizens from areas of danger; in areas where we do not have diplomatic representation, we are dependent on EU partners to act on our behalf and we do not always have as much control over arrangements as we would wish.