Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (121)

Bernard Durkan


121. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which international efforts to address issues in the Horn of Africa continue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25582/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing a period of tremendous political change and transition. Ireland, as a member of the EU, supports EU efforts to strengthen engagement in the region in order to ensure that the various transitions underway are positive. Ireland also supports efforts, including through the EU, to support greater regional integration.

Since his appointment in April last year, the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has pursued an ambitious programme of political, economic and social reform, on which he briefed the Taoiseach when they met in Addis Ababa in January. The Prime Minister's ambitious national reform process is complicated by the need to work through a backdrop of ethnic conflict and high levels of internal displacement.

Prime Minister Abiy led the process which resulted in an historic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea in July 2018, ending decades of conflict.

The Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCISS) was signed by the main parties to the conflict on 12 September 2018. While the deadline for the establishment of a power-sharing Government has been pushed back by six months, the agreement marked a new departure. It is now critical that all the parties to the conflict in South Sudan, including the Government of President Salva Kiir, maintain their commitment to its effective implementation. Achieving lasting peace will require sustained effort and commitment as well as a genuinely inclusive approach to building the future South Sudan.

Despite Somalia’s recent progress in peace building and state building, volatility and risks remain high and the ongoing impasse between the Federal Government and Regional Presidents is a cause for concern. The threat from Al Shabaab in the region continues, with the terrorist attack against the Dusit Hotel in Nairobi earlier this year.

The political events and violence against protestors in Sudan follows over six months of demonstrations, triggered initially by spiralling costs of living. On 11 April, it was announced that President Omar al-Bashir had been removed from power and that a Transitional Military Council (TMC) had assumed control in Sudan. Negotiations between the TMC and protesters have stalled, with security forces carrying out violent attacks against protestors, resulting in significant loss of life.

These dynamics are accompanied by a continued competition from countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey, for influence and control in the Horn, particularly Somalia and Sudan.

The region is also affected by the challenges of irregular migration, forced displacement, trafficking in human beings, and smuggling of people. Taken together, the political trajectory of the region when combined with climatic shocks, severe drought, and conflict, demands a multifaceted political and economic response.

Ireland, together with its UN and EU partners, is strongly committed to and actively engaged in the Horn of Africa, through our political, development and humanitarian efforts. The EU engages in the region through political dialogue, its Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions (EU NAVFOR Operation Atalanta, EUCAP Somalia, and EUTM Somalia), and development and humanitarian cooperation. The former Director of the Irish Coast Guard deployed to Mogadishu to take up the position of Deputy Head of Mission at EUCAP Somalia in January. Ireland, through the EU, also supports the efforts of the UN peacekeeping mission AMISOM to stabilise Somalia. Through regional and bilateral programmes and the Trust Fund for Africa, the EU is providing over €3 billion to the Horn of Africa (2014-2020) which focuses on supporting economic opportunities for young people. Ireland has pledged €15 million to the Trust Fund for Africa.

Ireland supports regional efforts in the Horn of Africa to achieve stability, normalise relations and increase regional cooperation, including through regional organisations such as the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). During his visit to Ethiopia in January 2019, the Taoiseach met with the acting Chairperson of the African Union to discuss regional issues.

During his visit to Ethiopia and Kenya in November 2017, the Tánaiste met representatives of IGAD and the African Union, and Ireland has since provided funding to IGAD to support negotiation, monitoring and evaluation of the South Sudan peace agreement and is planning to further increase engagement with the African Union in 2019. In addition, two Departmental officials are seconded to the EU mission in South Sudan, including one as Head of Mission.

The EU has a Special Representative to the Horn of Africa, Alex Rondos, whose mandate is to contribute to regional and international efforts to achieve lasting peace, security and development in the region. The Tánaiste discussed EU efforts in the region with EUSR Rondos when he visited Dublin in November 2018.

In response to the multiple humanitarian crises in the region, Ireland has provided €183 million in direct humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa since 2012. Over €30 million in Irish funding was provided in 2018, including to UN agencies and Irish NGOs to assist them in reaching the most vulnerable.

Ireland is also a contributor to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and has provided over €170 million in funding since 2006. This mechanism pools funds from multiple donors, enabling a flexible response to humanitarian crises based on objective assessments of need. This fund has allocated over $55 million to the Horn of Africa so far in 2019. With humanitarian needs likely to remain acute throughout 2019, Ireland remains committed to providing humanitarian assistance where it is needed most in the Horn of Africa, working with partners who can ensure that such assistance is delivered in a co-ordinated and effective manner.