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Equality Issues

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 28 September 2021

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Questions (411, 413)

Paul Murphy

Question:

411. Deputy Paul Murphy asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs if his attention has been drawn to the urgent help needed by the Tigrayan people; if he will raise this matter with his EU colleagues and at the United Nations requesting that they set up an international independent body to investigate these atrocities (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46362/21]

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Neale Richmond

Question:

413. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the status of the work his Department has done on the crisis of the Tigrayan people in Ethiopia; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46371/21]

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Written answers (Question to Foreign)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 411 and 413 together.

I remain deeply concerned by the human rights and humanitarian situation in Tigray, including the ongoing blockade of the region and attacks on humanitarian workers. As famine-like conditions are reported, there is an urgent need for full humanitarian access, a negotiated ceasefire, and the commencement of political dialogue to find a resolution to the conflict: I wish the former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, who has been appointed AU High Representative for the Horn of Africa, well in his mediation efforts.

I am alarmed by the conflict’s impact on civilians, including harrowing reports of widespread and ongoing sexual violence, and other serious human rights violations and abuses. It is vital that perpetrators be held to account. In this regard, Ireland strongly supports the work underway by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), to investigate reported atrocities. The publication of their joint report on 1 November will be a crucial first step towards accountability.

Ireland continues to take the lead at the UN Security Council to ensure a focus on the situation in Tigray. Ireland spearheaded calls for the most recent open Council meeting on 26 August, where UN Secretary General Guterres underscored the severity of the humanitarian situation, and urged all parties to immediately end hostilities, and negotiate a lasting ceasefire. At that meeting, Ireland reiterated its call for an urgent end to the violence, full humanitarian access, accountability for atrocities, and for a political solution to the conflict.

The Government also continues to support a strong and constructive EU response to the crisis. There will be a further discussion on Ethiopia and Tigray at the Foreign Affairs Council in October, in which Minister Coveney will participate. Minister Coveney also continues to engage on the situation in Tigray with key interlocutors, including leaders in the region and the Africa Union (AU). On 15 September he met with the EU Special Representative on the Horn of Africa, Dr Annette Weber, to discuss options for addressing the conflict.

Ireland’s continued priority will remain, as always, supporting the needs of the most vulnerable people in Ethiopia, including those affected by conflict in Tigray. Ireland, through the Irish Aid programme, has so far provided over €3.2 million to support the humanitarian response in Tigray and the refugee response in neighbouring Sudan, through trusted UN and NGO partners on the ground. On 7 July, I announced additional humanitarian funding of €2.75m for Ethiopia, to address hunger and insecurity, including in Tigray.

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