I thank the Deputy for his question. I am really glad he asked it. I know there is huge interest in the Israel-Palestine question and that is always going to be a big feature of foreign affairs questions but there are so many other really significant issues and conflicts that Ireland is involved in also, particularly in the context of the UN Security Council, and this is one of them.
I am extremely concerned by the ongoing conflict in Tigray. Notwithstanding commitments made, the situation on the ground is deteriorating. Yesterday we heard deeply disturbing reports of an air strike on civilians in a crowded market, which, if deliberately targeted, would constitute a war crime. An immediate ceasefire is urgently required. In this regard, it is imperative that Eritrean forces leave Tigray immediately. They have committed to doing so and it has not happened.
I am alarmed by credible warnings of famine coming from UN organisations. I am also concerned by ongoing attacks on humanitarian workers. There is an urgent need for full humanitarian access, which is being partially but not fully facilitated. Ireland joined recent international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire to allow for planting and to avert the risk of famine.
Ireland continues to work on the UN Security Council to ensure it addresses the situation in Tigray. Most recently, on 15 June, we called an informal meeting of the UN Security Council that focused on the humanitarian situation. In April, Ireland led the negotiation of a council press statement on the situation in Tigray, which was the first time the UN Security Council spoke publicly on the ongoing crisis. We have also used council thematic discussions on conflict and hunger, and on conflict-related sexual violence, to highlight these aspects of the crisis. It is fair to say our role in bringing the crisis in Tigray to the attention of the council has been widely recognised internationally.
Ireland continues to support a strong and constructive EU response to the crisis. I underlined our real concern in this regard at the foreign affairs committee on 21 June. EU foreign ministers will discuss Ethiopia again in July. I continue to engage with key interlocutors on the situation, including in the region; in the Gulf, where I met a number of counterparts last week; and in the African Union. I plan to visit Ethiopia during a visit to the Horn of Africa next month. My Department, through Irish Aid, has provided over €3.2 million to support the humanitarian response in Tigray and the refugee response in neighbouring Sudan through our UN and NGO partners on the ground. Further humanitarian support is under active consideration.