Minister for Foreign Affairs, accompanied by Agency Heads, to travel to Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka
In order to further reflect the Government's deep concern about the Asian tsunami disaster, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., Minister for Foreign Affairs, will leave on Saturday to review the situation on the ground in the stricken countries of Thailand, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Minister Ahern will be accompanied on the visit by the Heads of Concern, Goal, Trócaire and the Irish Red Cross.
The Minister and the Agency Heads will hold discussions with UN and other relief agency officials in the three countries, as well as with the governments concerned. They will also assess the situation with the special Government technical team which will be already in the region.
The Minister will additionally review the consular situation with the Ambassador to Thailand, Dan Mulhall, and with the Department of Foreign Affairs staff who having been working tirelessly since 26th December to help Irish citizens and their families affected by the disaster.
Announcing the visit, Minister Ahern said:
“The Government's priority is to ensure that the resources committed by the Government and the people are targeted at those in greatest need. This is about more than resources; we must ensure that our relief is used in an effective and targeted way.
The importance of effective coordination of our joint efforts cannot be overstated. That is the clear message we are hearing from the NGO community here in Ireland and from the United Nations, which has the central coordinating responsibility for the relief operation.
This joint visit will further strengthen the close cooperation and coordination between the Government and the Irish aid agencies in this immediate emergency phase, and also in our medium and longer term efforts to ensure the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the affected areas.
The decision to visit the affected region was made following the Government's consultations with the aid agencies, which were led by the Taoiseach, and subsequent discussion at Cabinet.
Minister Ahern, together with Minister of State Conor Lenihan T.D., will attend a special meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels tomorrow to discuss the European Union's response to the disaster.