Minister provides more aid for AfricaTuesday, August 7th, 2012
The Tánaiste has announced €3 million aid for Somalia during his humanitarian mission to Mogadishu.
The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD, made funding available to provide food, shelter and other vital assistance to thousands of Somalis affected by conflict and hunger.
“While progress has been made over the past year since famine was declared, the gains are now at grave risk of being reversed by yet another poor rainy season and a late harvest. Those who will be hardest hit over the coming months are the 1.4 million Somalis who have been displaced by drought and conflict. They are now balancing on a knife-edge, dependent on a good harvest to keep food prices low and to remain alive,” he said.
The minister’s mission coincided with the one-year anniversary of the UN’s declaration of famine in Somalia in July 2011. The Tánaiste is the first Irish Minister to travel to Somalia in more than two decades.
The €3 million is in addition to almost €30 million in emergency and long-term development funding that Irish Aid has provided to UN and aid agencies operating in Somalia over the past five years.
During his visit, the Tánaiste saw programmes implemented by the UN and aid agencies including Concern, with funding provided by the Irish Government through Irish Aid. He visited emergency feeding centres at camps for displaced by the decades-long conflict as well as a primary school, which was destroyed during the civil war, but has been rebuilt with Irish Aid support.
The Tánaiste also held a short meeting with Somali Prime Minister, Dr Abdiweli Mohamen Ali.
Speaking from Mogadishu, the Tánaiste said that the timing of the visit, in advance of next year’s Irish Presidency of the EU, offered an excellent opportunity to galvanise international action on Somalia, which is one of the most protracted and complex humanitarian crises anywhere in the globe.
He recalled the visit in 1992 by President Mary Robinson, who appealed to the international community to respond urgently to the tragedy that was unfolding at that time.
The minister previously saw work by the aid agency Trócaire elsewhere in Africa. Trócaire’s Eoghan Rice welcomed the Tánaiste’s visit telling ciNews, “It is important for him to get a sense of an environment like Somalia which is very difficult and unique environment.”
Speaking of Ireland’s presidency of the EU he added, “We welcome the minister visiting countries like Somalia and Uganda and hopefully he can ensure that the issues there and overseas development remain very high on the EU agenda throughout the presidency.”
Trócaire was given €10.4m by the Irish public following its appeal for help this time last year. During the year such money helped more than 400,000 people across Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. Amongst the projects funded were, drought resistant seeds supplied to 50,000 people in Kenya and Somalia; 60 water tanks, 22 wells, 12 rainwater catchments and 4 boreholes constructed or rehabilitated; 4,000 bed nets provided to communities vulnerable to malaria in Somalia; 82,500 water treatment tablets distributed to 2,750 households in Somalia; food vouchers supplied to 35,486 people in Somalia, giving them access to food each day for five months; 33,346 people in Somalia given water vouchers, providing them with clean water over a three month period; 2,874 patients and carers in two hospitals were supplied with two meals a day and; 1,833 pregnant women or new mothers supplied with rations of Unimix.
Eoghan Rice says that the situation has improved, thanks to the aid. Projects undertaken have laid very important foundations from providing basics such as food to starving to people to helping provide access to water, and the ability to raise crops and animals.
“There are long term issues that affect the East African region, like the rains that fail to materialise or are very erratic so these need to be addressed with projects like irrigation schemes and so on,” he said. Irish Aid the Government of Ireland’s programme of assistance to developing countries has had an official development assistance programme (ODA) since 1974 and its size in 2011 was €659 million.
by Ann Marie Foley