£ 1.7 million package for emergency humanitarian aid
The Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ms Liz O'Donnell TD, has announced a £1.7m package to meet emergency humanitarian needs in twelve countries.
The Minister, who has responsibility for Ireland's overseas aid budget, said Irish taxpayers' money was being used to ease the plight of hundreds of thousands of people in war-torn and famine-hit countries.
"This money will help save lives, ease suffering, and re-build societies which have been ravaged by humanitarian crises," Minister O'Donnell said.
She said the emergency grants showed Irish Aid working in close partnership with Irish aid agencies, and the United Nations, to deliver a rapid and effective response to these crises.
"This is money belonging to the Irish people: this is their generosity at work. I want to see greater public identification with Irish Aid projects so that Irish people can know, and take pride in, what is being achieved in their name".
Minister O'Donnell today gave the following summary of the projects selected in twelve countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.
In the face of urgent food and shelter requirements following the recent escalation of violence in Sierra Leone, Minister O'Donnell announced a grant of £100,000 to help the World Food Programme meet an urgent food shortage in that country. A further £100,000 will be provided to help CONCERN provide shelter for ten thousand internally displaced people in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.
An Irish Aid assessment team recently visited Sudan and, following their report and a UN needs assessment report for 1999, Minister O'Donnell has approved a grant of £200,000 to Operation Lifeline Sudan, the UN body coordinating the response of the international community, and to UNICEF to meet immediate needs in Southern Sudan and help prevent slippage to disastrous famine conditions over coming months.
Following crop failure in Southern Somalia and UN estimates that 300,000 people are in life threatening danger, Minister O'Donnell has approved a grant of £200,000 for the UNICEF emergency programme in Somalia. In addition, CONCERN will receive £95,000 for a food security programme while HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL will receive £136,000 to assist the disabled, including landmine victims.
With the spread of conflict to much of Angola, the UN currently estimates that over a million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. A grant of £150,000 has been approved by the Minister to enable the International Red Cross to respond to immediate needs, especially food shortage.
Other Irish Aid Grant Allocations
Minister O'Donnell today also announced a range of Irish Aid grants including:
Grants of £70,000 for the International Rescue Committee have been approved by the Minister to help build economically viable agricultural opportunities for rural returnees and resident families in Bosnia. A separate grant of £25,000 is being provided towards a network of Journalists ("AIM") promoting independent views and information in Bosnia.
Grants of £185,000 for CONCERN to improve the capacity of local authorities, church groups and detainee association to provide food for detainees. A further £23,000 is being provided to enable Penal Reform International (PRI) to support Penal Reform Projects
A grant of £50,000 is being made to assist the International Red Cross meet emergency winter needs among vulnerable groups including the elderly, disabled and single parent families.
£20,000 is being allocated to assist the Red Cross meet flood needs in Central Vietnam.
£75,000 is being provided to Trocaire to assist one hundred thousand Burmese refugees in camps on the Thai/Burmese border.
£131,000 has been approved by the Minister to assist the Irish NGO SAFE improve sanitation and living conditions in Kabul as well as providing fuel to those suffering from the harsh winter in Northern Afghanistan.
A £35,000 grant is being made to Medicins San Frontieres (Switzerland) to provide assistance to cholera victims in Northern Mozambique.
£120,000 is being allocated to help provide emergency aid for Iraqi refugees.
Minister O'Donnell said today "These allocations - to meet emergency needs resulting from food shortages, floods, epidemics, prisoner needs, lack of secure shelter - show the range and extent of Irish Aid humanitarian programmes".