Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Questions (23)

Brendan Smith

Question:

23. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the outcome of discussions at the recent EU Foreign Affairs Council regarding the conflict and humanitarian disaster in South Sudan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28226/14]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The conflict and ongoing humanitarian crisis in South Sudan has been discussed by the European Union Foreign Affairs Council on a number of occasions since the outbreak of violence there in December 2013, with an in-depth discussion held most recently on 17 March 2014.

On 15 May 2014 the African Union and the EU jointly welcomed an agreement to resolve the crisis in South Sudan signed by President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar on 9 May 2014. The EU and the African Union also urged the two sides to fully implement all agreements that have been signed to date, including the 23 January Cessation of Hostilities Agreement. EU Development Ministers further discussed the crisis with High Representative Catherine Ashton on 19 May.

The EU, through the efforts of its Special Representative for the Horn of Africa Alexander Rondos as well as its Embassies in the region, is actively engaged with international efforts to resolve the conflict in South Sudan. The EU has supported mediation efforts by the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

Moreover, we have been working with the United Nations to protect civilians and provide humanitarian relief wherever possible. The UN Security Council unanimously agreed on 27 May 2014 to reorient the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) to focus on the protection of civilians. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) co-hosted the Humanitarian Pledging Conference for South Sudan in Oslo from 19 to 20 May, at which donors pledged more than $600 million. Ireland pledged €2 million at the Oslo conference, to support life saving work of UN and NGO partners in the country, and this pledge has been fulfilled. In total, Irish Aid funding for the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan amounts to almost €5 million to date in 2014. Our support has saved and continues to save many lives.

Five members of the Irish Permanent Defence Force are currently deployed for service with the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS) at UNMISS and my Department has also deployed a number of civilian experts to the UNMAS mission through the Rapid Response Initiative.