Dáil Éireann - Volume 565 - 09 April, 2003
Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.
Mr. Durkan Mr. Durkan
172. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the progress to date regarding the alleviation of starvation, war and drought in the Horn of Africa; the requirements and priorities in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10260/03]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The Government is deeply conscious of the enormity of the challenges facing countries in the Horn of Africa as they seek to build the foundations of economic and social development, often in a climate of famine and strife. The Government has moved rapidly to respond to the humanitarian situation in this region since the food security crisis began there last year. Emergency and humanitarian assistance provided by the Government for the region amounts to €9 million.
Last January the Minister of State with responsibility for development co-operation and human rights, Deputy Tom Kitt, visited Ethiopia to view and assess the impact that the prolonged drought is having on the country. During the visit the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, held discussions with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles as well as other Ministers. He also met with key development actors such as the UN World Food Programme, the EU Commission and representatives of the NGO community. Discussions were held on ways of effectively mobilising resources  for the more than 11 million people who will require food assistance in the coming months.
On foot of the visit, the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, wrote to his EU counterparts to call for a redoubling of efforts to tackle this crisis. The Government has allocated €3.7 million for emergency assistance for vulnerable people in Ethiopia, with an emphasis on food, water and emergency health interventions.
Ireland's emergency assistance will be integrated closely with our long-term development activities in Ethiopia and thus address the underlying causes of drought and hunger.
The Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, took the opportunity during his visit to witness first hand the positive effects that Ireland's long-term assistance programme is having on many rural communities in Ethiopia. The partnership for development established with the Ethiopian authorities represents the best way forward in tackling once and for all the structural problems associated with food insecurity in that country.
In Eritrea, UN reports indicate that over 60% of the country's 3.3 million people are facing food shortages. On 17 February last, the Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, allocated emergency funding of €550,000 for food and other essential assistance for the people of Eritrea. This brings to €1.6 million Ireland's assistance to Eritrea in the past year.
The Minister of State, Deputy Kitt, has raised the crisis in the Horn of Africa on a number of occasions with EU Commissioner Poul Nielson, most recently on 18 February in Dublin. During the latter meeting, he briefed the Commissioner on his visit to Ethiopia and discussed ways of improving co-ordination among EU members in relation to the famine response. The EU and its member states have so far allocated €160 million in humanitarian assistance for the Horn of Africa, of which approximately two thirds has been provided by the Commission.
We will continue to follow the unfolding situation in the Horn of Africa closely. The Government stands prepared to deliver further assistance from Ireland Aid over the coming months. In addition, we will work with our donor partners to ensure maximum co-ordination and coherence in the international response to the humanitarian crisis.
Dáil Éireann 565 Written Answers. Overseas Development Aid.