Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Questions (105)

Joan Burton

Question:

105. Deputy Joan Burton asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his plans to support the development of democracy in Sudan; his plans to provide humanitarian assistance; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53044/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland has warmly welcomed the power sharing agreement reached on 17 August and the subsequent establishment of a civilian-led transitional Government, led by Prime Minister Hamdok. This followed months of protest.  I commend the African Union for its robust leadership and facilitation of the agreement, with Ethiopia playing an important part in mediating the talks.  

As an expression of its strong political support for the changes underway in Sudan the EU signed the 17 August agreement as a witness.  Ireland, together with our EU partners, will continue to support a civilian-led transition in Sudan.  

Assuring Sudan's long-term stability will require the inclusion of all elements of society, notably women and youth, in the transition process.  In this regard, I welcome the appointment of four women Ministers in Sudan’s new Government, including its first ever female Foreign Minister, and the appointment of a woman as chief of the judiciary. I also welcome the establishment of an investigation into the violent crackdown against protesters in Khartoum on 3 June – it is imperative that this investigation is independent and transparent, in order to ensure that the perpetrators are held accountable.  

While recent events give cause for optimism, significant challenges remain.  Some are political: Sudan’s military signed the power sharing agreement only under intense external pressure.  The leaders of long running insurgencies in Darfur, Blue Nile State and South Kordofan rejected the 17 August agreement, with peace talks between the Government of Sudan and rebel leaders ongoing.  

Sudan’s current economic outlook is of pressing concern. Basic commodities are in short supply, with queues for basic food items and fuel, and severe levels of food insecurity and malnutrition across the country.  

Significant support, including from Ireland and the EU, is required in order to assist Sudan in its transition and to ensure that the humanitarian situation arising from economic and other challenges are addressed.  Prime Minister Hamdok attended the November Foreign Affairs Council.  EU Foreign Ministers, including the Tánaiste, reaffirmed the EU’s strong political commitment to supporting his civilian transitional Government, as well as the EU’s readiness to provide financial aid for the transition. The EU supports wider efforts to enable Sudan's transitional Government to secure debt relief, access to finance and foreign investment, as part of that country's transformation process.

This month’s Foreign Affairs Council adopted Conclusions on Sudan which reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to accompanying Sudan as it implements the necessary political, economic and social reforms path required to make the transition to democracy a success. Building democratic institutions, ensuring respect for the rule of law, and strengthening democratic actors is an integral part of achieving peace and economic recovery.  

Since 2012, Ireland has provided almost €30 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Sudan through UN, NGO and Red Cross partners.  This year, over €3.6 million in Irish funding was provided, including to Irish NGOs to assist them in reaching the most vulnerable.  Through Irish Aid’s rapid response mechanism, an experienced Irish nutrition advisor was deployed to work with UNICEF in Khartoum coordinating the nutrition response across the country.  In response to the violence surrounding the transition, Ireland gave targeted support to the Sudan Humanitarian Fund to help address the medical needs of those affected.  

Ireland is a significant contributor to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Sudan Humanitarian Fund, which has allocated $55.7 million so far in 2019 to support the complex and ongoing crisis in Sudan.  Through this mechanism, our contribution is pooled with other donors, facilitating a single, unearmarked fund which can support the highest priority projects put forward by the best placed partner on the ground.  This year, the number of people in need targeted through this fund increased from 5.5 million to 7.8 million.  The fund supported humanitarian responses in the areas of health, shelter, child protection, gender based violence and psychosocial support, nutrition, water, sanitation and education.  

My officials continue to actively monitor political developments and the humanitarian situation in Sudan, including through Ireland’s Embassy in Nairobi, in cooperation with the EU Delegation in Khartoum, and through Ireland’s strategic engagement with the OCHA donor support group and as co-chair of the ICRC donor group.