Thursday, 17 December 2015
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
511. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the composition of the rapid response corps; when it last met; the number of members it has; if consideration was given to deploying it in the Shannon Basin; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45714/15]
Under Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade manages a roster of highly skilled and experienced individuals who make themselves available to deploy overseas at short notice to work in severe, large-scale humanitarian and emergency crises around the world. The Rapid Response Corps roster currently comprises 120 individuals with specialised skills in child protection, nutrition, logistics, engineering, humanitarian coordination, and other areas.
Rapid Response Corps members are deployed overseas to work as surge capacity in United Nations’ humanitarian response operations including those of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
As the Rapid Response Corps was established as part of Ireland’s overseas development and humanitarian assistance programme, all Corps members deploy overseas to areas of greatest need in developing countries. In light of the vast humanitarian needs globally at the current time, and the focus of the Government’s overseas development assistance programme, consideration was not given to deploying members to flood affected communities and households in the Shannon basin to assist with relief efforts.
Most Corps members deploy overseas to severe, protracted crises in Africa and crises in the Middle East driven by conflict and violence, where millions of people have been displaced and the scale of humanitarian need is immense and unprecedented. Corps members also deploy overseas in the immediate aftermath of severe sudden onset disasters such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Nepal and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. 32 roster members were deployed to date in 2015 to countries including South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, Nigeria, Tanzania, Jordan, and Nepal.