The Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello TD today expressed concern at the increasing numbers of refugees displaced across the world.
Speaking ahead of World Refugee Day tomorrow, Minister Costello described the findings of a new report UN High Commissioners for Refugees’ (UNHCR) as worrying, but said Ireland remains committed to supporting refugees who are some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The UN report, released yesterday, revealed that more people became refugees last year than at any time since 2000.
“In recent years, we know the plight of refugees forced to flee their homes has been exacerbated by climate change, natural disasters and food scarcity. According to the UNHCR, in 2011 alone 4.3 million people were newly displaced, with a full 800,000 of these fleeing their countries and becoming refugees. These figures serve as an important reminder that we must continue to strengthen our support for displaced people around the world.
“Ireland has a strong history of providing support to refugees. Working in partnership with UNHCR, other UN agencies and our NGO partners, Irish Aid has provided assistance to long standing and often forgotten refugee crises such as in Western Sahara, the Horn of Africa and the Thai/ Burmese border.
“More recently we have been working with partner organisations in emerging crisis regions of the world, including South Sudan, Syria and Mali. The support we provide offers displaced people life sustaining assistance to help them in the task of rebuilding their lives.
Working through partner organisations, Irish Aid has supported more than 130,000 refugees in South Sudan who reside in camps along a disputed border with Sudan. In Syria, Ireland’s response to the deteriorating situation there includes support through the UNHCR for the tens of thousands forced to leave their homes, either to locations within the country or to neighbouring countries.
Earlier this month, Minister Costello travelled to Ghana where he witnessed the dispatch of an Irish Aid shipment of emergency supplies to help thousands of vulnerable Malian refugees in West Africa.
“The essential supplies dispatched, including tents and water and sanitation equipment, are now being used by Malian refugees who were forced to cross the border into Burkino Faso. The complex refugee crisis in Mali, brought about by a combination of conflict, environmental fragility and food scarcity, has seen more than 160,000 refugees fleeing their homes.
“Since the beginning of the year, I have authorised more than €9 million in funding to assist in humanitarian relief efforts in the Sahel region. Our support for Mali Refugees is another example of how Ireland moves quickly to respond to the needs of displaced people during international emergencies.”
19 June 2012
For further information on Irish Aid visit www.irishaid.ie or contact Fionnuala Quinlan, Press Officer, Irish Aid, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 087-9099975.
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