Tuesday, 17 June 2014
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
134. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he proposes to raise at the EU Foreign Affairs Council the urgent need for the international community to provide much needed additional humanitarian assistance for South Sudan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26087/14]
135. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he proposes to raise at the next meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council the need for the EU to support the mediation talks in relation to the on-going conflicts in South Sudan; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26088/14]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 134 and 135 together.
I remain very concerned about the political and humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, and especially the devastating impact on the civilian population. We have been working closely with our European Union partners since late 2013 on the response to the crisis. The EU has supported mediation efforts by the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the important agreement signed on 9 May, which provides the basis for the negotiation of a transitional government of national unity. Under this process, the first meeting between President Salva Kiir and opposition leader, Riek Machar, was held on 10 June. The EU’s Special Representative to the region, together with EU Ambassadors, including Ireland’s Ambassador in Addis Ababa, continue to work to encourage a peaceful solution to the crisis.
The situation in South Sudan was discussed in detail at the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on 17 March 2014. Subsequently, on 15 May, the African Union and the EU met in Brussels and jointly welcomed the 9 May agreement, urging the parties to fully implement all agreements that have been signed to date. The Foreign Affairs Council of EU Development Ministers also discussed developments with High Representative Catherine Ashton on 19 May. The Minister for Trade and Development, Mr. Joe Costello T.D., highlighted the need for progress by the EU in implementing a comprehensive approach to the political, security, and development crises in South Sudan.
Since the outbreak of the conflict in mid-December 2013, more than 1.4 million people have been forced from their homes and an estimated five million people are in urgent need of assistance. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), there is a serious risk of famine later this year unless adequate humanitarian assistance can be delivered to those most in need.
At the South Sudan pledging conference in Oslo on 20 May, international donors pledged more than $600 million dollars in aid, aimed at preventing famine and upholding human rights in the country. This is about half of the estimated total funding required to allow for the provision of vital nutrition supplies, water and child protection services. Ireland pledged €2million at the conference to support the emergency operations of UN and NGO partners in the country. This includes the provision of €1.36 million to our NGO partners in South Sudan to provide healthcare and protection to vulnerable women and children. In addition, we are providing €500,000 to support the WFP’s work in the country and €200,000 to assist South Sudanese refugees who have fled to Uganda. This funding brings our total contribution in 2014 to some €5 million.
We will continue to monitor the situation closely and to support the work for a peaceful solution to the crisis. In particular, we will continue to advocate at all relevant international meeting for increased support to the humanitarian relief effort both within South Sudan and for South Sudanese refugees and host communities in neighbouring countries.