O'DONNELL ANNOUNCES £600,000 GRANT FOR WINTER NEEDS IN KOSOVO
The Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ms. Liz O'Donnell TD, today announced a grant of over £600,000 for urgent humanitarian assistance in Kosovo.
The funding will go towards helping the most vulnerable groups there, particularly old people and children, to get through the very harsh winter.
It brings to nearly £5m. the amount of Government aid to the region this year.
"The funding will help rehabilitate the district heating systems in Pristina, Gjacova and Mitrovica which will help improve the living conditions for thousands of people in these urban areas. Ireland is also helping to fund emergency repairs to houses in the Peje region where the worst of the destruction took place. Over 60% of the houses in this region were seriously damaged or completely destroyed. This programme will ensure that over 700 vulnerable families will have at least basic shelter for the winter," Minister O'Donnell said.
Funding will also go towards helping with the restoration and rehabilitation of basis utilities in the region of Gnjilane which is being administered by Irishman, Brigadier General Richard Heaslip, who is on secondment from the Defence Forces.
"Many of the refugees we have welcomed to our shores come from Pristina and the Gnjilane region and I was pleased to meet some of them in Waterford last Saturday and to listen to their concerns for the future. We are very happy to support these programmes which are helping people who have suffered terribly to re-build their lives and their children's futures,"the Minister added.
Approximately 200 people have returned to Kosovo from Ireland since the end of the conflict. Over 800 refugees remain here. A number of heads of families have also availed of the "look and see" programme, which allowed them to assess the situation in their villages and towns before opting to return permanently or stay here.
The Government funding is being channelled through Concern and the UN Mission in Kosovo working with the International Rescue Committee. The projects were identified as particularly urgent by an assessment team from the Department of Foreign Affairs to Kosovo at the beginning of October.Top