Irish Government's Humanitarian Response to the crisis in Iraq
• “The Government is putting aside €5 million in humanitarian assistance for the alleviation of suffering of innocent Iraqi civilians” – Minister of State, Tom Kitt TD
• “The world needs an effective United Nations. In the weeks to come, the people of Iraq and the wider region will need the support and assistance which only a united and cohesive United Nations can provide.” – Minister of State, Tom Kitt TD
I have today met with a number of key Irish NGOs in relation to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. Prior to this I have also had a number of meetings with international humanitarian agencies including the United Nations and the Red Cross.
My thoughts and concerns are with the Iraqi civilian population, and in particular the situation affecting women, children, the elderly and displaced persons caught up in this conflict. However, the situation is still evolving and there remains considerable uncertainty regarding the direction, duration, size and impact of military action and the resulting humanitarian crisis.
We are monitoring the humanitarian situation in Iraq on a daily basis. Our primary focus, as always, remains on the most vulnerable sections of the population and especially on those whose capacities to cope have been severely eroded.
With the outbreak of hostilities the humanitarian situation in Iraq is becoming more difficult with every passing day. However, the challenges facing the international community can, in my view, be met. We have gained valuable experience and lessons from similar humanitarian situations, most recently Afghanistan. Coordination between all the agencies and NGOs is absolutely essential for effective humanitarian relief. Our aim must be to learn from the mistakes of the past and incorporate the lessons learnt in a practical way in all our humanitarian activities.
I believe that the Irish NGOs that I have met today and the UN can, if given the opportunity and space to carry out their work, make a real difference in meeting the emergency needs of the innocent Iraqis caught up in the conflict.
I believe that an effective UN coordination of a civilian-led humanitarian effort must be established as soon as conditions allow and military forces should do everything they can to create an environment secure enough for this to happen.
The world needs an effective United Nations. In the weeks to come, the people of Iraq and the wider region will need the support and assistance which only a united and cohesive United Nations can provide.
I have today announced that the Government is putting aside €5 million in humanitarian assistance for the alleviation of suffering of innocent Iraqi civilians. This funding will be distributed to our partner NGOs and International Agencies who have the capacity to respond effectively to the current crisis.
I have asked these organisations to submit detailed proposals to me as soon as possible. The funding must be clearly targeted at responding to the immediate humanitarian crisis.
The focus must be on saving the lives of the most vulnerable.
Note to Editors:
The Government's global humanitarian assistance budget for 2003 is €23 million. Priority is given to funding the most vulnerable groups in least developed countries, with a particular emphasis on Africa. To date this year Ireland Aid has responded to the food security crises in southern Africa and the Horn of Africa as well as to a number of so called "forgotten emergencies" in west Africa. In the past year I have witnessed at first hand the extent of the food security crisis in Ethiopia and southern Africa. I have no doubt about the need for Ireland Aid to continue providing support to the countries where over 30 million people remain at risk.