Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (47)

Brendan Smith

Question:

47. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the failure of the international community to provide adequate humanitarian aid to Syria and that region was discussed at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council, if he will outline the commitments made by the international community following the humanitarian aid pledging conference; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18455/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The protracted and tragic crisis in Syria has resulted in unprecedented levels of humanitarian need, requiring a sustained response from the international community. As the number of fatalities surpasses an estimated 140,000 people, there are now over 9 million people within Syria who are in need of immediate life-saving support, with a further 2.6 million Syrian refugees requiring assistance in neighbouring countries. Ireland has been to the fore in the international efforts to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people and is one of the most generous contributors to the humanitarian response on a per capita basis. In view of the immense needs in Syria and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees, I announced Ireland’s pledge of a further €12 million in humanitarian assistance at the Second International Humanitarian Pledging Conference for Syria and region in Kuwait on January 15th 2014. This additional pledge in Kuwait brings Ireland’s overall funding commitment over the period 2011 to 2014 to €26.011 million, of which over €20 million has been disbursed to date. Funds have been provided to a range of established UN partners as well as to Irish NGOs. We will continue to provide assistance, within our means and as the situation evolves.

Ireland has also been consistent in its efforts to ensure that the necessary attention is given by the international community to this crisis, including at the most recent meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. At this meeting discussions were focussed on the need for a political solution to the conflict which has had dire humanitarian consequences, both within Syria and in its neighbouring countries. Ministers considered the latest developments on the ground, in particular the state of play in diplomatic efforts to bring an end to the crisis and the implementation of the UN Security Resolution 2139, on humanitarian access.

The revised UN response plan for Syria and the refugee populations has requested US$6.5 billion dollars in total for operations in 2014, of which approximately 23% has been provided by the international community to date. This represents the largest humanitarian appeal in the history of the UN. The international community has pledged US$2.5 billion in assistance in response. Ireland strongly supports the continuation of the EU’s role as the largest donor to this prolonged crisis and has used every opportunity to encourage donors to honour their pledges towards the humanitarian response.