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Ireland airlifts humanitarian supplies into Uganda for South Sudanese refugees

Emergencies, Hunger, News/feature, Horn of Africa, South Sudan, Uganda, 2017


Minister Flanagan and MoS McHugh announce airlift of humanitarian supplies into Uganda to help South Sudanese refugees


Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh T.D., announced that Ireland is dispatching over 100 tonnes of humanitarian supplies to Uganda to help refugees from South Sudan, who have been forced to flee their homes by continuing conflict, violence and acute hunger. 


These supplies, including tarpaulins for shelter, blankets, cooking sets, and mosquito nets, will be airlifted into Uganda over the coming days [from Sunday]. They will be donated to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, UNHCR, for distribution to over 20,000 South Sudanese people who have recently arrived at new refugee settlements in Arua and Lamwo Districts in northern Uganda.


The total cost to Ireland for these airlifts is €500,000, and they are being dispatched from UN Humanitarian Depots in Dubai and Accra, where Ireland pre-positions relief supplies for use in humanitarian crises under our Rapid Response Initiative. 


Announcing the airlift, Minister Flanagan said:


“The South Sudan crisis continues to be one of the most severe large-scale humanitarian crises in the world today. I am deeply concerned by the high levels of population displacement both internally and to neighbouring countries, with one in four people now driven from their homes. It is an immense tragedy that 1.9 million people have been forced to flee South Sudan as refugees since the end of 2013.  


“Ireland stands firmly with the South Sudanese people, providing significant humanitarian assistance through our Irish Aid programme, totalling €46 million since 2012, including €11 million last year alone.  The airlifts that we are announcing today are the latest in a series of supports provided by Ireland to vulnerable people affected by the South Sudan crisis, and brings to €8 million Ireland’s total humanitarian assistance to this crisis so far this year.  We are supporting our UN and NGO partners’ life-saving operations targeting the most vulnerable people both in South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in the region.


“The Government of South Sudan, countries in the region and the international community must step up efforts to end the cycle of protracted conflict and violence that is driving displacement in and from South Sudan. Ireland, together with our EU and UN partners, will continue to work for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.”  


Minister McHugh added:


“Uganda is now hosting the largest refugee population in Africa, hosting 930,000 South Sudanese refugees, as well as around 300,000 refugees of other nationalities. I saw first-hand the mammoth scale of needs among refugees when I visited Adjumani in northern Uganda last year. Many arrived with only what they could carry. The international community must work harder to meet the immediate and longer term needs of refugees in Uganda and elsewhere, including not only the provision of shelter, protection, food assistance and access to clean water, but also health care, education and livelihood opportunities in their new communities.


“Our assistance to this crisis needs to be commensurate with the solidarity shown by the Ugandan and other host Governments in the region whose resources are increasingly overstretched and depleted.  Ireland commends the Government of Uganda’s open-door and progressive refugee policy. The Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees, which will be co-hosted by Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Kampala later this month, is an opportunity to mobilise international support to help the Government of Uganda to carry this load.  Ireland will continue to do what it can to support the Government of Uganda in our diplomatic relations and through our aid programme.” 



Press Office                                                                            

11 June 2017


Notes to the Editor:


  • Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For further information see www.irishaid.ie

  • The crisis in South Sudan is one of the most severe large-scale humanitarian crises in the world today.  7.5 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance and protection, out of a population of 12 million.

  • Since the conflict in South Sudan began in December 2013, 2 million people have been internally displaced in the country, and 1.9 million people have fled as refugees to neighbouring countries, mostly to Uganda, but also to Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda is now hosting almost 1.3 million refugees in total, the majority (930,000) of whom are from South Sudan.

  • The South Sudan crisis now the largest refugee crisis in Africa. Two-thirds of South Sudanese refugees are under the age of 18. People continue to flee the country in vast numbers, driven by conflict, violence, loss of livelihoods and acute hunger.

  • Since the end of 2013, the population has been exposed to repeated deliberate attacks and other violations of international humanitarian and human rights law, including forced recruitment of children and widespread sexual and gender-based violence.

  • Hunger and malnutrition levels in South Sudan have reached historic levels and in February this year famine was declared in parts of the country affecting 100,000 people in Unity state.  A further 1 million people are now on the brink of famine.

  • Ireland’s total support to the South Sudan crisis since 2012 amounts to €46 million, including €38 million since the outbreak of conflict there in December 2013.  €11 million was provided by Ireland last year and €8 million to date in 2017.

  • The additional package of humanitarian assistance now being planned will be delivered through Ireland’s bilateral country programme in Uganda and through our humanitarian assistance programme, to help people affected by this crisis, both in South Sudan and for those recently displaced to Uganda. 

  • The Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees will take place in Kampala on 22-23 June 2017.  Ireland will be represented at this important event. See http://solidaritysummit.gou.go.ug/ for more information on the Summit.

  • As part of Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative, Irish Aid pre-positions emergency and humanitarian relief items around the world.  We stockpile in UN Humanitarian Response Depots (UNHRD) which are strategically located near disaster and crisis prone areas - in Accra (Ghana), Brindisi (Italy), Dubai (UAE), Panama City (Panama) and Subang (Malaysia).

  • Last year Irish Aid airlifted 357 tonnes of emergency relief supplies to families affected by drought and flooding in Ethiopia, to families affected by conflict, violence and displacement in the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Iraq, Niger and Nigeria, and, most recently, to families affected by Hurricane Matthew in Haiti.

  • These two airlifts of 101 tonnes of relief supplies into Uganda, are the latest in a series of airlifts Irish Aid has organised into the Horn of Africa region. 102 tonnes were airlifted into Somalia in April and 34 tonnes were airlifted into South Sudan last month, for distribution to people affected by drought, hunger and conflict.