Minister of State calls for secure humanitarian aid corridors
Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Liz O'Donnell TD highlighted the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan today and called for safe and secure routes for humanitarian convoys into that country.
Minister O'Donnell was addressing Seanad Eireann and the Foreign Affairs Committee on the situation following the terrorist attacks in the US and the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan respectively.
Minister O'Donnell stated that
"there is agreement in the international community on the absolute necessity of ensuring the delivery of vital humanitarian supplies on a safe and consistent basis to those most in need. It follows from this that secure access corridors are needed to reach the most vulnerable sections of the population".
Minister O'Donnell drew attention to the rapid onset of winter in Afghanistan and the likely devastating effects it would have on a population already at the limits of its endurance after three years of drought and over twenty years of conflict.
"We have little time to put the necessary emergency stocks in place and Ireland will use every opportunity to urge donors to ensure that humanitarian funding commitments are discharged as quickly as possible. It is a race against time", said Minister O'Donnell.
Minister O'Donnell urged the opening of borders between Afghanistan and its neighbours Pakistan and Iran.
"At the moment it would appear that refugee flows out of Afghanistan are lower than anticipated. However this may change at any time and UNHCR is making preparations for up to one and a half million refugees. The reopening of borders to cater for a steadily escalating refugee flow is necessary to enable aid agencies and their staff to respond effectively and to allow refugees across. People have the right to flee from conflict and seek refuge. This issue requires urgent consideration and attention from the international community".
Minister O'Donnell expressed her shock at the bombing of the Red Cross warehouse in Kabul and the need to comply fully with international humanitarian law which protects aid workers and emergency supplies.
"The targeting of humanitarian activity, however unintentional, is simply not acceptable" she said.
Minister O'Donnell referred to the Irish Government's continuing assistance to Afghanistan which has amounted to £4 million in 2001. Ireland Aid has funded the work, in Afghanistan and on its borders, of Irish NGOs Concern, Trocaire, Christian Aid and Goal. In addition funds have been made available to international organisations such as the World Food Programme. The Irish assistance is aimed at the provision of food and basic needs.
Ireland Aid is providing over £27 million in emergency and rehabilitation assistance worldwide in 2001.Top