Foreign Affairs Committee welcomes additional support for Sahel and growing trade links with Africa

May 24th, 2012 - Pat Breen

The Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade welcomed additional humanitarian funding from Ireland to support relief operations in the Sahel region of West Africa and Sudan and South Sudan and welcomed that Minister of State for Overseas Development and Trade Joe Costello TD chose the forum of the Committee to make this important announcement.

Committee Chairman, Pat Breen TD said: “We welcome the commitment from Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, at today’s committee meeting to authorise an additional €4 million in support for the relief operation in the Sahel Region of West Africa. Additional support of over €250,000 will also be granted to agencies providing vital water and sanitation services to those displaced from the conflict in Mali.

The food shortages in the Sahel region of West Africa are resulting in a major humanitarian crisis. Around 15 million people in Niger, Mauritania, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal are now struggling to obtain enough food to eat. The problem is compounded by conflict in Northern Mali which has resulted in 200,000 people being displaced from their homes, with many being forced to flee to neighbouring countries which are already suffering from food shortages. The extra humanitarian aid announced by the Minister should deliver much-needed food, supplies and healthcare to help alleviate the suffering in the region.

The Minister also announced plans to make available an additional €3 million in funding for humanitarian operations in Sudan and South Sudan. A major humanitarian situation has developed in South Kordofan and Blue Nile area where around 350,000 civilians have been affected by fighting. Across the border in South Sudan, extreme poverty and insecurity have resulted in a growing crisis. The extra funding announced today will provide further support which is urgently needed in these countries.

At our meeting today to mark Africa Day, it was acknowledged that if Africa is to prosper, it will not be through the aid agenda alone. Africa needs to build its own capacity through trade and Ireland’s relations with Africa need to reflect growing trade links with the continent also.”