Dáil Éireann - Volume 557 - 13 November, 2002
Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
186. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the assistance being given by the Government to Zimbabwe, Angola, Zambia and Malawi to help avert the starvation being faced by 12 million people in these countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21507/02]
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
191. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the extent to which he proposes, through the UN or the EU, to assist the alleviation of starvation in Zimbabwe and other African countries; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21886/02]
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen) Brian Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): I propose to take Questions Nos. 186 and 191 together.
The Government is actively responding to the grave humanitarian situation now facing the Southern Africa region, both bilaterally and with our partners in the European Union and the United Nations. Recent assessments carried out by the United Nations World Food Programme indicate that over 14 million people in southern Africa will be in need of food assistance by next March. Nearly half of these are in Zimbabwe.
In response to this food crisis, Ireland Aid, the official aid programme of the Government, has delivered over €8 million in emergency and humanitarian assistance for the affected countries in southern Africa to date this year.
Bilateral support has been given to key international organisations providing food and other essential aid to the southern Africa region. In July over €1 million was allocated to the WFP and in May €500,000 was provided for the International Federation of the Red Cross in response to its food security appeal. For individual countries in the region, the following amounts have been disbursed to date this year through international agencies and Irish non-governmental organisations operating on the ground: €3 million to Angola; €2 million to Malawi; €250,000 to Zambia; and €1.2 million to Zimbabwe.
I stress that, in addition to emergency humanitarian assistance, Ireland Aid is also delivering long-term development support to the region with an emphasis on poverty reduction through the provision of basic needs and capacity building support. In 2002, it is estimated that such support for southern Africa will exceed €80 million.
The Government's concern at the situation in southern Africa has been underlined by the fact that the Minister of State with special responsibility for overseas development assistance, Deputy Tom Kitt, visited Malawi and Zambia last August and witnessed first hand the devastating effect that famine, drought and HIV/AIDS are having on the people of the region. He also viewed the excellent work being carried out by Irish non-governmental organisations and by missionaries and their local counterparts in seeking to alleviate the worst effects of the crisis.
 The WFP country director for Zimbabwe visited Dublin in September and briefed Ireland Aid on the food situation in that country. A senior official from Ireland Aid will this week be travelling to Zimbabwe to meet relevant international organisations, Irish NGOs and missionaries to review Ireland's emergency humanitarian aid activities and to co-ordinate further assistance.
Ireland's financial support has been complemented by ongoing political action. The Government has been working closely with its partners in the European Union and United Nations to develop strategies on how immediate food needs across southern Africa may best be addressed at both the national and regional levels.
At the UN level, the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, last week met UN Under Secretary General at the Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Mr. Kenzo Oshima, to discuss, inter alia, the ongoing response to the humanitarian crises in Africa. In his address to the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg on 3 September 2002, the Taoiseach highlighted the food security crises threatening Africa and the need for an urgent international response. At the summit the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, raised the crisis with EU Development and Environment Ministers and with the administrator of the UN Development Programme. In June 2002, Ireland took part in the special Regional Meeting on Humanitarian Needs in Southern Africa hosted jointly by the WFP and OCHA in Johannesburg.
At the EU level, on 30 May 2002, a Declaration on the Food Crisis in Southern Africa was adopted at the EU Development Council in Brussels, at Ireland's initiative. I also raised the matter again in June 2002 with other EU Ministers at the meeting of the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg. On 17 July 2002, the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, met Commissioner Poul Nielson, in Brussels for discussions on the crisis.
In response to the humanitarian crisis in southern Africa, EU member states and the EU Commission have contributed €310 million as of 16 October. This amount is destined primarily for the hardest hit countries in the region, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Of this amount, €177 million is managed directly by the EU Commission and covers 40% of the total needs for this region. Over 90% of the food aid required is being purchased in local and regional markets so as not to disrupt these markets and local eating habits, which is in line with the Food Aid Convention. In May 2002, €32 million in food aid and €10 million in humanitarian aid was earmarked for Angola by the EU Commission. This contribution is part of a package worth a total of €125 million for Angola.
We will continue to follow the unfolding situation in the southern Africa region carefully and the Government stands prepared to deliver further assistance. In addition, we will work with our donor partners in the EU and the UN to  ensure maximum co-ordination and coherence in the international response to this crisis.
Dáil Éireann 557 Written Answers. Overseas Development Aid.