Tuesday, 14 June 2022
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
890. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade his reaction to recent reports highlighting levels of acute hunger and food insecurity throughout Africa and the Middle East; the status of the low level of current funding towards United Nations humanitarian appeals for these regions; his views on whether the Annual Meeting on the Grand Bargain on 30 June 2022 as an opportunity for Ireland to rally its partners to pledge real aid to this situation of utmost urgency; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30931/22]
Global food insecurity is at record level. By the end of last year, nearly 193 million people were experiencing crisis levels of food insecurity, an increase of almost 40 million over the previous record in 2020.
This situation has continued to worsen in 2022. The Russian invasion of Ukraine, including its effective blockade on shipping from Ukraine's Black Sea ports, has restricted access to wheat and fertilizers. This has had an upward pressure on global food prices, exacerbating the precarious situation of vulnerable people particularly in countries experiencing ongoing humanitarian crises.
The United Nation’s outlook for June to September 2022 identified 20 hunger hotspots where lives and livelihoods are at risk and urgent humanitarian action is a priority. These hotspots, with the exception of Afghanistan and Haiti, are all in Africa and the Middle East. In six of these countries – Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen – there is a real and terrifying prospect of starvation and death.
The United Nations reports that its humanitarian appeals are significantly underfunded, at 18.2% of estimated resource requirement. That said, the amount of funding given in response to these appeals significantly higher in absolute terms than at this point in previous years.
There is a collective responsibility to act and Ireland is leading by example. Through our range of experienced and trusted partners, including UN agencies, the Red Cross family and NGOs, the Irish Aid programme is supporting responses across the globe, with a strong focus on the 20 hunger hotspots. The Irish Aid allocation for humanitarian action this year, at €113 million, is substantially higher than last year, and is likely to increase further before year end in response to these emerging needs. Separately, and to help address the underlying causes of food insecurity, Ireland has pledged to invest €800 million by 2027 in improving global food and nutrition systems.
As the informal focal point on Conflict and Hunger on the United Nations Security Council, Ireland is consistent advocate for urgent attention and action on global food insecurity. We are also a strong voice at the EU on collective action.
The Grand Bargain Annual High Level Meeting will take place on 30 June and 1 July in Geneva. This will bring together 64 donor signatories, UN agencies, the Red Cross family and NGOs. While this is not a pledging conference, it is a timely opportunity for key humanitarian actors to discuss and agree on the collective actions necessary to respond to rising global hunger. Ireland will use this important opportunity to advocate for an urgent, scaled-up response that targets those most in need.
891. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the plans that Ireland has in the context of food insecurity in Syria that may be exacerbated by the political and economic effects of the Ukrainian crisis in the event that humanitarian access to Syria from Turkey becomes blocked and its partners have to address this crisis at political and humanitarian levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30932/22]
With over 14 million people inside Syria requiring assistance, Syria has been one of the most complex humanitarian crises in the world since the conflict there began over a decade ago. In addition to those affected within the country, millions more Syrians have left the country as refugees, the majority to neighbouring countries.
This is the context within which the wider impacts of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including the restriction of grain exports, are reverbating, within Syria and also across its neighbours. In Syria itself, almost two-thirds of the population are expected to face food shortages in 2022.
This year, through the Irish Aid programme, the Government will provide over €23 million to the Syria humanitarian response. This will bring Ireland’s assistance to Syria since 2012 to over €216 million, our largest ever response to a humanitarian crisis. Using a variety of trusted partners, we ensure that critical assistance reaches those most in need. This includes displaced Syrians still within the country as well as refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
Ireland is also addressing the issue of food insecurity directly, notably through funding of €8 million (provided through the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine) to assist the World Food Programme’s activities both within Syria and in the neighbouring countries.
Ireland also provides significant humanitarian funding at the global level, including to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). In the last six months, the CERF has provided $25 million in critical assistance to Syria with the largest proportion going to support food security. Ireland also contributes to the EU response to the crisis – so far this year the European Commission has mobilised €135 million in humanitarian aid to provide vital assistance (including food and nutritional support) to millions of people inside Syria.
Since joining the Security Council in 2021, Ireland and Norway have served as co-penholders on the Syria humanitarian file. In July 2021, we were pleased to secure Resolution 2585 by consensus, which extended the mandate for the UN’s cross border operation at Bab al-Hawa for 12 months. Ahead of the expiry of that mandate in July, Ireland and Norway are continuing to engage extensively across the Council, making the case that humanitarian aid must continue to reach all people in need.