O'DONNELL ANNOUNCES ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR ETHIOPIA
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD, has announced an additional allocation of £1.5m. towards emergency humanitarian aid in Ethiopia.
Speaking in the Dail tonight, the Minister said £1m. was being re-allocated from a fund for long-term projects in Ethiopia to address the current needs.
"This is a once-off measure to ease the plight of those most affected and to prevent the current unacceptable situation from developing into a major disaster. A large portion of the money will go to the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF," the Minister added.
She said an additional £500,000 was to be taken from the Government's emergency humanitarian budget and given to the relief agencies, Concern and GOAL, to assist them in the vital work they were carrying out on the ground in Ethiopia.
Minister O'Donnell said she had written to the Ethiopian Foreign Minister stressing the need for the authorities there to be flexible regarding visas, the importation of vehicles and emergency assistance and to liberate "relief agencies from frustrating bureaucracy as they went about the business of saving lives".
She said she had also asked the Ethiopian Government to examine all means to increase port access for humanitarian supplies.
Minister O'Donnell told the Dail tonight that the achievement of the UN target of 0.7% of GNP would be the clear objective in proposals being finalised by her Department on Overseas Development Assistance (ODA).
She was speaking on a Fine Gael private members' motion on ODA.
"The Taoiseach and I have separately indicated a time-frame similar to that outlined in the Fine Gael motion, but I believe it will be appropriate for us to have an interim target," she added.
The new policy proposals would address key issues, she said, and would seek to maintain the high quality of our aid programme for which we had received international acclaim.