Dáil Éireann - Volume 487 - 19 February, 1998
Written Answers - Albanian Orphans.
Mr. McGrath Mr. McGrath
69. Mr. McGrath asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to a Channel 4 news programme of 17 December 1997 which showed footage of children in orphanages  in Albania covered in flies, naked, sleeping in beds without mattresses and obviously suffering; and the steps, if any, the Government and the EU have taken to counteract the situation. [4265/98]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews) David Andrews
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Andrews): I am aware of the Channel 4 programme of 17 December 1997 dealing with children in orphanages in Albania. I share the Deputy's concern about the plight of the people of Albania and the particular case of children.
In 1997 the Government contributed $50,000 in humanitarian aid to the International Committee of the Red Cross for the benefit of the people of Albania. Ireland also contributed £32,000 through the Irish NGO, Health Action Overseas, for capacity building in public health promotion and nutrition education.
The Government would be willing to consider additional project proposals from NGOs for financial assistance to Albania. This could be done through the Department's NGO co-financing scheme which supports the work of Irish NGOs in developing countries. Under this scheme, priority is given to proposals which meet the basis needs of the poorest sections of the population in areas such as primary health care, primary education, water, sanitation, urban and rural development and vocational training.
At international level, a ministerial conference in Rome and a donor conference in Brussels were held in October 1997. At these conferences, international and bilateral donors confirmed their willingness to continue to assist the most vulnerable social groups in Albania.
In addition, since 1996 the EU, through its European Community Humanitarian Office, ECHO, has allocated a total of 12 million ecu, over £15 million, to Albania. ECHO's assistance which is channelled primarily through its partners, i.e. the non-governmental organisations and the specialised agencies of the United Nations, has directly focussed on the needs of the most vulnerable in Albania through food aid and the rehabilitation of essential social services. A portion of this assistance has gone to orphanages.
Dáil Éireann 487 Written Answers Albanian Orphans.