Irish volunteers now ready for deployment to humanitarian emergencies overseas - first volunteer Conor Lyons leaves shortly for Sri Lanka
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Dermot Ahern TD, and the Minister of State for Overseas Development, Mr Michael Kitt TD met today with volunteer members of Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps – recently established to provide a pool of seasoned technical experts to be deployed in humanitarian emergencies.
The Ministers announced the first deployment of a member of the Corps - Conor Lyons, from Thurles, Co. Tipperary - an experienced logistician who has been assigned to work with the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Sri Lanka.
Mr Ahern said “I want to congratulate all those who have volunteered for service with the Corps and especially Conor Lyons from Thurles who will be the first member of the Corps to be deployed. As the WFP has the task of coordinating all relief supplies for Sri Lanka, I know that he faces a daunting task in managing this complex operation in such a difficult environment where over 600,000 people are in need of humanitarian support because of the on-going conflict in that country.”
Twenty-four (24) volunteers from the Corps have completed their special pre-departure training course and are now on standby to be deployed to humanitarian emergencies overseas. A further thirty (30) volunteers will participate in a 6 day training course starting next Wednesday, and will be ready to deploy shortly thereafter.
Minister Kitt stated that “the Rapid Response Corps is a key part of Irish Aid’s response to humanitarian emergencies. It will greatly improve Ireland’s ability to respond to global humanitarian crises by providing essential expertise which is critical to the international response. Conor Lyons has this expertise and local knowledge having worked earlier in Sri Lanka providing support to victims of the Tsunami. I wish him every success and I would like to assure him of our full support in meeting the challenges which he will face in fulfilling the job he has been given. He, and the other volunteers selected, have our full confidence.”
The Ministers also thanked the Rapid Response Corps volunteers for their enthusiasm and participation, and wished them well for their future deployments.
NOTE FOR EDITORS:
The Rapid Response Corps is the final element of the wider Rapid Response Initiative. The Initiative was announced in the Irish Aid White Paper last year. The other two elements which have already achieved significant progress, involve the pre-positioning of humanitarian supplies in the UN’s Humanitarian depot in Brindisi as well as in the Curragh; and enhancing the capacity of key UN, Red Cross and NGO partners to respond to humanitarian emergencies.
The pre-deployment training programme for volunteers has been designed specifically for the Rapid Response Corps by the Kimmage Development Studies Centre and the Defence Forces UN School at the Curragh Camp, working in cooperation with Irish Aid.
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