Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Questions (59)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

59. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the extent to which he, along with EU and his UN colleagues, continues to press for humanitarian assistance in the various conflict zones globally; if consideration continues to be given to the provision of safe or protective havens for civilian communities fleeing from war, genocide and terrorism; the extent to which peacekeeping interventions are being considered in the most sensitive war zones; if it possible through the aegis of EU or the UN to motivate the global community into treating refugees, whether political or economic, in a manner which is respectful of their status and dignity and in keeping with international human rights; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25175/19]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

The number and complexity of humanitarian crises globally has increased in recent years, with the UN estimating that over 140 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and protection. Conflict is the most significant driver of this increased need.

Ireland prioritises the provision of needs based, principled humanitarian aid to major humanitarian crises such as Syria but also to ‘forgotten crises’ which receive less attention such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic and Sudan. Over 90% of Ireland’s humanitarian funding in 2018 was directed in support of those affected by conflict.

Critical to maximising Ireland’s response is our strong and enduring commitment to effective multilateralism, particularly through our membership of the European Union and the United Nations. Ireland is a strong contributor not just to decisions regarding the international humanitarian response to crises but also to efforts to prevent conflict and to resolve conflict.

Ireland has a deep partnership with the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA. OCHA coordinates and leads coherent and effective international responses to humanitarian crises. Ireland is the current chair of the OCHA donor support group, which works with the Office the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to discuss OCHA's strategy and priorities.

Ireland is firmly committed to the protection of civilians and the need to uphold international humanitarian law. In international forums, Ireland consistently advocates for adherence to the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and calls on all parties – for example, those engaged in the Syria conflict – to fulfil their responsibility to protect civilians and to allow the safe passage of humanitarian assistance.

Promoting international peace and security in regions of conflict is a core mission of the United Nations. By necessity, United Nations authorised interventions are required in the most sensitive war zones.

Ireland has a long tradition of contributing to UN and EU peace-support missions, including in some of the world’s most complex and intractable conflicts. Ireland has maintained a continuous presence in UN peace support operations since 1958, and has more than 570 personnel in United Nations mandated missions overseas. The Government is committed to participation in peace-keeping operations as a tangible contribution to the development of global peace and security. This commitment informs Ireland’s decision to seek election to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for the period 2021-22. If elected, membership of the Security Council would allow Ireland to play an important influencing role in the international response to the needs of the most vulnerable.

Ireland is a strong advocate for the needs of refugees. Ireland played a lead role in co-facilitating, with Jordan, the 2016 United Nations Summit to address large movements of refugees and migrants. The Declaration from this Summit paved the way for the development of a Global Compact for Refugees, and a Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration adopted by the United Nations in December 2018.

Ireland also provides financial assistance to the UN's Refugee Agency, UNHCR. In 2018, Ireland provided €13.2 Million to UNHCR’s global operations, which covered both core funding to the organisation, as well as specific crisis responses in Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Jordan.