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Ireland to assist Misurata evacuation

Emergencies, News/feature, Libya, 2011

The Government is to assist the emergency evacuation of civilians from the city of Misurata in Libya.

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore TD, said Ireland, through Irish Aid, would fund the International Organisation for Migration to evacuate 1000 civilians on a specially-chartered ship. The IoM has carried out a number of such emergency missions to Misurata, which has been under fire by President Gadaffi’s forces for nearly eight weeks.  The United Nations last week estimated at least 20 children had been killed during the ongoing hostilities. 

“Given the increasing number of casualties in Misurata and the thousands of lives that are in danger we felt a responsibility to act,” the Tánaiste said.

 “Colonel Gadaffi’s forces have agreed to allow ships into the port to evacuate civilians and we have requested that the IoM undertake an emergency operation on our behalf. Irish Aid officials have been in close contact with them over the last few days, putting in place the necessary measures for the mission to take place.”

Civilians rescued in previous IoM operations have been weak and dehydrated with many needing medical attention while at sea. Some had to be stretchered off the boat when it docked and IoM officials believe many would not have survived another day in Misurata due to the poor state of their health.

Minister of State for Overseas Development and Trade, Ms Jan O’Sullivan TD said Irish Aid would contribute the €300,000 cost of the evacuation mission, as well as €200,000 to support the evacuees once they reach the port of Benghazi and for the IoM’s work with people fleeing into neighbouring countries. It brings total Irish Aid assistance to Libya to nearly €1.2 million.  

“The humanitarian situation in Libya is continuing to deteriorate, with thousands of people urgently needing assistance in camps along its borders, as well as within the country itself,” said Minister of State O’Sullivan.

“Irish Aid has already provided 18,500 blankets from its stockpiles, as well as emergency funding. This evacuation mission will help to safeguard as many lives as possible.”

Notes for the Editor

·        Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas development programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

·        The €500,000 announced today brings total Irish support for the IoM operation on Libya’s border to €1m. In addition, Irish Aid provided 18,500 blankets and 100 tents from its stockpile at the UN humanitarian base in Brindisi, Italy. The supplies were transported by ferry from Salerno in Italy to the Tunisian capital Tunis and then brought by road to the border with Libya.

·        For further information, visit www.irishaid.ie or contact Fionnuala Quinlan, Press Officer at Irish Aid, Department of Foreign Affairs on 01-4082653 or 087-9099975.

21 April, 2011