Thursday, 17 April 2014

Questions (40, 51)

Brendan Smith

Question:

40. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the urgent need to provide much needed additional humanitarian aid for South Sudan was discussed at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18445/14]

View answer

Brendan Smith

Question:

51. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if the urgent need to provide much needed additional humanitarian aid for South Sudan was discussed at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18512/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 40 and 51 together.

The political and humanitarian situation in South Sudan was most recently raised at the EU Foreign Affairs Council which the Tánaiste attended last month. At that meeting, the European Union expressed its deep concern about the ongoing conflict in South Sudan and the grave human suffering it is causing for ordinary civilians caught up in the violence.

Since the outbreak of the conflict in mid-December 2013, more than one million people have been forced from their homes and around 3.7 million people are severely food insecure. At the Foreign Affairs Council, the EU welcomed the role of the UN in coordinating the humanitarian response and urged all partners to contribute both generously and swiftly to the South Sudan Crisis Response Plan. In particular, the EU urged the international community to align efforts in addressing the growing food security problem while at the same time strengthening the resilience of the population. EU Foreign Ministers also condemned continued restrictions on humanitarian activities and called on all parties to allow rapid, full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all populations in need, in accordance with international humanitarian law and principles.

Total EU (Commission and Member State) humanitarian support currently stands at €127 million. This funding is supporting immediate life-saving activities such as distributing essential food and non-food items, providing shelter, healthcare, protection, water, hygiene and sanitation. Funding is targeted at people in need within South Sudan, as well as South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries.

Ireland has committed more than €3.6 million to date in 2014 in response to the current outbreak of conflict and resulting displacement. In January, I authorised two airlifts totalling 45 tonnes of emergency supplies to South Sudan from our pre-positioned stocks in Accra, Ghana, valued at €400,000. A further airlift of 36 tonnes of emergency supplies, valued at €370,000 was dispatched to Uganda in March to assist the South Sudanese refugees in the country. I also approved €1.5 million in funding to the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) for 2014 to ensure that UN agencies and NGOs on the ground can respond to urgent humanitarian needs. Finally, under Irish Aid NGO humanitarian funding schemes, I have so far in 2014 also approved a total of €1,360,000 in funding to Concern, MSF, World Vision and Plan, for a range of emergency response activities in Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile and Warrap States.

Ireland will continue to advocate at all relevant international fora for increased support to the humanitarian relief effort both within South Sudan and for South Sudanese refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries. We will continue to provide assistance, within our means and as the situation evolves.