The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore TD, today announced €3 million in life-saving assistance to Somalia during a visit to the capital, Mogadishu. The funding will provide food, shelter and other vital assistance to thousands of Somalis affected by conflict and hunger.
Today’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.
Speaking after his visit, the Tánaiste said:
“Somalia is one of the poorest and most insecure environments in the world. Our ongoing assistance is saving lives every day. The funding I announced today will help our United Nations and NGO partners to scale up their vital assistance to the millions of vulnerable Somalis whose lives are in jeopardy as a result of war and starvation. We are committed to supporting them as they strive to build a better future for their families and their country.
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.”
The €3 million is in addition to almost €30 million in emergency and long-term development funding which 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.
“Ireland will play a leading role in raising humanitarian issues over the course of our EU Presidency next year. We have a long and distinguished history of humanitarian engagement, not least in Somalia. I was proud to travel here today to see how Ireland has assisted families in need of food, water and shelter, principally through Irish NGOs such as Concern and Trócaire, who have worked here for over twenty years with the support of the Irish public and the Government.
Many will remember the historic visit here in 1992 by President Mary Robinson, who appealed to the international community to respond urgently to the tragedy that was unfolding at that time. Sadly, decades of conflict and famine mean that millions of Somalis continue to face untold hardship, hunger and suffering, with many relying on international assistance just to stay alive.”