Government announces IR£ 2 million towards alleviation of distress of Kosovo refugees
The Taoiseach, in consultation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, today announced an immediate payment of IR£ 2 million towards the alleviation of suffering and distress in Kosovo. It was also decided that the Minister and the Minister of State will seek an early meeting with Irish aid agencies to discuss the best method of disbursing this money.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs said that the whole country is deeply distressed by the images of suffering which they are seeing daily on their TV screens. Some of these images have strong echoes of earlier periods of disaster in Europe.
"The savage treatment of innocent men, women and children, the beatings, executions and expulsions from their homes, present a spectable which is intolerable to the civilised world", Mr. Andrews said.
The Minister said that Ireland was also working urgently with our European partners and the international community to deal with the human suffering caused by the campaign of ethnic cleansing and expulsion. He welcomed the meetings of Ministers for Justice and Home Affairs and EU Foreign Ministers which have been convened for Tuesday and Thursday respectively. The Minister is keeping in constant touch with developments in Kosovo with the assistance of his senior officials in Dublin, Brussels, Bonn and Geneva. Through them, he is in continuous contact with the High Commissioner for Refugees, ECHO and other humanitarian agencies to ensure a coordinated and effective response to the needs of the displaced people.
Mr. Andrews said that contingency planning was also underway with Departments and agencies for reception into Ireland of refugees should that become necessary.
"At the moment, the priority is to be able to help people by providing food, shelter and medicines for them in the region", he said.
The Minister said that the latest developments in the crisis underlined the urgent need to find a political solution which would make it possible for the refugees to return to their homes in peace and security and for Kosovo's self-government to be restored as quickly as possible.