Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (377, 379)

Richard Boyd Barrett

Question:

377. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has spoken to his counterparts in Europe regarding the ongoing conflict in the Tigray region of Ethiopia; the discussions he had; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7319/21]

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Cian O'Callaghan

Question:

379. Deputy Cian O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the aid Ireland has provided to the Tigray region of Ethiopia in recent weeks; if he has raised the humanitarian crisis in the region with international partners or at the UN; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7341/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 377 and 379 together.

Ireland remains deeply concerned by the ongoing armed conflict between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the former regional authorities in Tigray, which began on 4 November. The conflict has had a devastating impact on the population of Tigray, and poses severe risks to the stability of the wider Horn of Africa region.

Ireland is engaging directly as well as actively supporting the efforts of the EU, UN and wider international community to address the crisis, including through engagement with the African Union. We are strongly supportive of regional efforts to try to find a resolution to the conflict. However progress has been limited to date.

Ireland raised the situation in Ethiopia at the UN Security Council on 3 February, expressing deep concern at the humanitarian situation in Tigray and calling for unhindered humanitarian access. Ireland also called on all parties in Tigray to comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law including those related to the protection of civilians and prevention of sexual and gender-based violence. Ireland will continue to advocate for an urgent response to the humanitarian situation, and for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

In contacts with key interlocutors, Minister Coveney has called on all parties to cease hostilities, respect international humanitarian law and begin dialogue, as well as for immediate and unhindered humanitarian access to affected areas. He has condemned reported atrocities and identity-based attacks, and has called for the human rights of all Ethiopians to be upheld. Ireland continues to engage with regional actors in this regard, including in Addis Ababa, Nairobi and Pretoria, and through our membership of the European Union.

Last week, and following discussion of the situation in Ethiopia at the Foreign Affairs Council on 25 January, Minister Coveney raised the situation in Tigray with his counterparts in Germany, in the context of contacts between Chancellor Merkel and Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, and Finland, in advance of the visit to the region by its Foreign Minister on behalf of the EU. Ireland will continue to work closely with our EU partners to ensure a strong response to the crisis.

My Department has provided over €2.6 million to date to support the humanitarian response to the Tigray crisis. This includes €1.4 million to Irish NGOs within Tigray, €500,000 to the UN refugee agency to support the refugee response in neighbouring Sudan, and almost €750,000 towards humanitarian stocks, and supports for the protection of women and girls.