I propose to take Questions Nos. 125 to 127, inclusive, and 138 together.
I refer the Deputies to the response to Questions Nos. 67, 68, 78 and 81 of 18 June.
Political developments in Sudan last week give cause for some cautious optimism, although the situation there remains fluid. I welcome the work by those engaged in regional processes, led by the African Union, which resulted in last week's agreement to establish a Sovereign Council with both civilian and military participation. Ireland, together with the EU and other Member States, will actively support a civilian-led political transition, including necessary economic reform and humanitarian assistance. The inclusion of a commitment within that agreement to establish an independent and transparent investigation into violent crackdown against protestors on 3 June is also welcome.
I am aware of the recent allegations that the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces, which emerged from remnants of the Janjaweed militia in Darfur, receive financial support from the EU Trust Fund for Africa, which was established to fight human trafficking and to provide protection and support for refugees. The EU has strongly refuted this claim and confirmed that it does not provide any financial support to the Government of Sudan, to the Transitional Military Council or to the Sudanese Rapid Support Forces. All EU support to Sudan is delivered by EU Member States, the UN, international organisations and non-governmental organisations and is underpinned by respect for human rights. My officials will continue to scrutinise all new proposals, to ensure adequate safeguards are in place, for funding to Sudan under the EU Trust Fund.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has condemned the use of sexual and gender-based violence against protestors in Sudan. Ireland’s third National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security, launched on 21 June, strongly reaffirms Ireland’s commitment to preventing sexual and gender-based violence in conflict settings and to ensuring support for recovery and relief in post-conflict settings. Today, 9 June, Ireland delivered a national statement on Sudan at the Human Rights Council in Geneva calling for all human rights violations and abuses, including sexual and gender-based violence, to be thoroughly investigated in an independent and transparent manner with those responsible held to account.
Senior officials from my Department met the Sudanese Ambassador to Ireland earlier this year to express concerns at the political situation. My Department's ongoing communication with the Embassy on the evolving situation in Sudan allows our concerns to be formally transmitted to the Sudanese authorities. Officials also recently met with representatives of the Sudanese community in Ireland to listen to their concerns and views regarding how the current impasse may be resolved.
Since 2012, Ireland has provided over €29 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Sudan. As well as this direct bilateral aid, Ireland has also contributed to humanitarian support in Sudan through the multilateral system. Ireland is a significant contributor to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) Sudan Humanitarian Fund, and provided financing of €3 million in 2019. In 2018, the fund provided assistance to just under 2 million beneficiaries, including 489,556 girls and 609,162 women. Programmes funded by the Sudan Humanitarian Fund include Gender-Based Violence programming and supports.