Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Questions (434)

Bernard Durkan


434. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he and his Department and the international community continue to monitor the activities of the Al Shabaab and Boko Haram or other similar organisations engaged in various nefarious activities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [38708/20]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

Ireland strongly condemns all acts of violence and terror perpetrated by Boko Haram and Al Shabaab. Ireland supports the EU, UN and other international efforts to reduce the influence of Boko Haram and Al Shabaab and to prevent their attacks, especially against civilians. Ireland continues to monitor the activities of these groups and to assist populations affected by their actions.

The UN is active in working to undermine the influence and impact of Al Shabaab and Boko Haram. The UN continues to monitor the situation in areas affected by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad Basin, through its Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), as well as at the UN Peacebuilding Commission, in which Ireland actively participates. The UN-mandated African Union-led peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM) supports the Federal Government of Somalia in its efforts to combat Al Shabaab.

The EU is one of the main financial contributors to AMISOM and it has also pledged €50 million in funding to the Multinational Joint Taskforce to improve security in West African territories affected by Boko Haram. More broadly, the EU supports the strengthening of government institutions and provides significant development funding in Somalia, and in the countries affected by Boko Haram's terrorist activities, notably through its Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. Ireland is a long-term donor to the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa and has committed over €15 million to that Fund.

The EU Council Conclusions of June 2020 reaffirm the EU’s commitment to tackling terrorism across Africa, particularly in the Sahel and Horn of Africa. The EU has three Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions in the Horn of Africa. A number of Irish nationals are deployed to EUCAP Somalia, including the current Head of Mission. In the Sahel, Ireland previously had 20 Defence Forces personnel participating in EUTM Mali, with numbers temporarily reduced to 12 due to Covid-19. Ireland also deploys one expert to the EUCAP Sahel Niger. Ireland’s participation in these missions allows us to contribute to international peace and security, protect human rights, and support conditions for sustainable development in the region.

Ireland also works bilaterally to promote peace and security in areas affected by armed groups. Ireland places a strong emphasis on tackling the poverty, hunger and exclusion which can contribute to radicalisation. We are members of the International Support Group of the Regional Stabilisation Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin (ISG), and observer members of the Sahel Alliance. Both groups offer international partners a forum to coordinate support in addressing the challenges in Boko Haram-affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin.

In addition, Ireland works with partners to respond to humanitarian need in regions affected by conflict. Ireland has provided €27 million in humanitarian funding to the Lake Chad region since 2015. Ireland’s Embassy in Abuja also contributes funding for those displaced by conflict in North-East Nigeria through its Humanitarian Fund. Ireland has also been a consistent supporter of the humanitarian response in Somalia, providing over €51 million in humanitarian assistance since 2012, including to communities displaced by conflict in Al Shabaab-held areas. With humanitarian needs in these regions likely to remain acute, Irish funding will continue to target those most in need.

The Embassies of Ireland in Nairobi, Addis Ababa and Abuja will continue to actively monitor the situation on the ground, advise on humanitarian response and guide Ireland’s engagement in EU and UN fora, particularly as we take up our UN Security Council seat in 2021.