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Government announces funding for evacuation of civilians from Libyan border

Emergencies, News/feature, Libya, 2011

The Government has announced it will contribute €250,000 to evacuate civilians fleeing from the conflict in Libya.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore, T.D., announced the funding for the International Organisation for Migration (IoM) in a Dáil debate on Libya this morning. The funds will be used by the IoM to repatriate foreign nationals crossing into Egypt and Tunisia. It follows an international appeal by the United Nations earlier this week.

“There are literally hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in Libya who have found themselves caught up in the conflict and are attempting to return home,” the Tánaiste said.

“Nearly 10,000 people are in transit camps on Libya’s borders. Irish Aid provided thousands of blankets to the UN last week as part of the Government’s response to the crisis. These funds will allow the IoM to take people from the camps and get them back to their home country.”

Minister of State for Trade and Development Jan O’Sullivan, T.D., said the 60,000 people had already received assistance from the IoM and the UN High Commission for Refugees after fleeing the conflict.

“The UN estimates that there were nearly two million foreign workers in Libya when the conflict began,” Minister O’Sullivan said.

“Nearly 350,000 people have left to date and there is a clear risk that this could escalate in the coming days or weeks. Ireland’s support for the IoM will help them to develop contingency plans as the conflict continues.”

The €250,000 brings total Irish support for the IoM operation on Libya’s border to €500,000. 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.


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.

·         Irish Aid pre-positions essential humanitarian relief items in a series of strategically-located depots worldwide. The pre-positioning of such stocks forms part of the Rapid Response Initiative established in the aftermath of the 2004 Asia Tsunami.  The United Nations Humanitarian Relief Depots (UNHRD), which are highly specialised, are administered by the World Food Programme and are located in Brindisi, Italy; Accra, Ghana; Subang, Malaysia; Panama and Dubai.

·         They are supported by 41 national governments or international humanitarian organisations. The network was used by Irish Aid to organise airlifts and shipments of essential shelter, water and sanitation supplies to emergencies such as those which affected Haiti and Pakistan during 2010.

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

24 March 2011