To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the efforts he and his European counterparts will make to assist South Sudan, in view of the fact that a famine has been declared; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 28th February, 2017.
Ref No: 9585/17
(Minister of State, Mr. Joe McHugh T.D.)
I am very concerned about the situation in South Sudan, particularly in light of the declaration of famine in parts of the country this week. The UN has estimated that 100,000 people are facing starvation, with a further one million people on the brink of famine. Three UN agencies have also warned that urgent action is needed to prevent more people from dying of hunger.
Ireland has provided €39 million in humanitarian assistance for South Sudan since 2012. Our assistance is focused on saving lives and alleviating the suffering of the South Sudanese people through meeting their immediate and most basic needs, providing food and livelihoods assistance, treating acute malnutrition, providing shelter and enhancing their protection. In 2016 alone, Ireland contributed just over €11 million to South Sudan.
In view of the rapidly deteriorating situation this year, we have released €265,000 for South Sudanese refugees in the Democratic Republic of Congo and for internally displaced persons in South Sudan. Further assistance is now being planned to support the humanitarian and emergency response operations of our UN and NGO partners on the ground.
The concern is shared strongly at EU level. On 21 February 2017, the European Commission announced an emergency aid package of €82 million which is aimed at addressing the urgent humanitarian situation in the country. Since December 2013, the EU Commission has provided €381 million in humanitarian funding, which, including vital assistance for internally displaced people, refugees, returnees and other vulnerable people.
In addition to our humanitarian assistance, Ireland and our EU partners have issued strong political statements, most recently through the Foreign Affairs Council in December 2016, condemning the outbreak of violence in South Sudan, and clearly stating that there can be no military solution to the crisis. The Conclusions called on all parties to observe the ceasefire in full and to take the decisive steps necessary to end the conflict. The Conclusions also underlined the need for a political solution through the implementation of the existing peace agreement, agreed in 2015, and urged the Government of South Sudan to work with regional and international bodies such as the UN, the African Union and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development to resolve the political crisis. The EU also called on all parties to allow the full, safe and unhindered provision of humanitarian assistance to all those in need, which is essential in order to save lives.
At the UN level, Ireland co-sponsored a resolution on South Sudan at the Special Session of the United Nation’s Human Rights Council, stressing the need for all parties to end the conflict and respect international humanitarian law in December 2016. At the Universal Periodic Review of South Sudan in November 2016, Ireland requested that the South Sudanese authorities provide unimpeded humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely, with our EU partners, through our Embassy in Addis Ababa, which is accredited to South Sudan, and our Embassies in Kampala and Nairobi.