Minister Ahern prepared to double aid for tsunami crisis
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern, T.D., today ended a three country visit to the region hit hardest by the tsunami disaster. The Minister was accompanied by the Chief Executives of Concern, Goal, Trocaire and the Irish Red Cross.
Commenting on Government assistance to help the victims, Minister Ahern said:
“The Government made a special allocation of €10 m in response to the disaster. In addition to this, the Irish public – as we knew they would – have shown extraordinary generosity. The first tranches of Government money are already going to assist organisations including the Red Cross, Concern, Goal and Trocaire to enable them to respond quickly to the immediate needs of the people in the aftermath of the tsunami.
Having witnessed the devastation at first hand it is clear that there is an enormous challenge of recovery and reconstruction over the coming years. I believe that Ireland must be fully engaged in this effort, as we have been in other parts of the world. I am prepared to allocate a further €10 m from my Department's Emergency Humanitarian Fund, bringing the total funding available from the Exchequer for the tsunami disaster to €20 million. There will be particular emphasis on the operations of the organisations whose representatives accompanied me and my officials will immediately enter into discussions with them as to their priorities”.
On the question of military/logistical support, the Minister recalled that he wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations offering the services of skilled personnel. To date a number of gaps have been identified by the UN, and Ireland has agreed to provide a number of personnel in the areas of transport logistics and engineering. The details of these are being worked out. The Minister said that he is in contact with the Defence Minister Mr. Willie O'Dea and expects that some army personnel will be on the ground shortly. He will also look very positively at any further requests.
Areas where Ireland should be able to assist include the rebuilding of livelihoods including the fishing sector, and the building of temporary shelter and more permanent housing.
12th January 2005