Thursday, 23 June 2022
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
328. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the degree to which the activities of the Boko Haram and the Al Shabaab continue to be monitored and restricted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33544/22]
Ireland strongly condemns the continued violence perpetrated by Boko Haram and al-Shabaab. Ireland supports the European Union (EU), United Nations (UN), and other international efforts to reduce the influence of Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, and to prevent their attacks, especially against civilians and humanitarian workers and facilities. Ireland continues to monitor the activities of these groups and to assist populations affected by their actions.
Through Irish Aid, the Government's official aid programme, Ireland is tackling poverty, hunger, and exclusion, which can be drivers of support for groups such as Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, as well as responding to humanitarian need, in regions affected by conflict. Recipients of Irish Aid funding include Concern Worldwide, Goal, Plan International Ireland, and Trocaire, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and UN agencies and programmes. As an EU Member State, Ireland also contributes to the significant EU development and humanitarian response in countries affected by Boko Haram and al-Shabaab.
Since 2015, Irish Aid has allocated over €36 million in bilateral funding to alleviate the conditions of people in distress across the Lake Chad region – including North-East Nigeria, where the numbers of people in need of humanitarian assistance and protection are at the highest levels recorded. In 2021, Ireland’s funding in the region included €1 million to support the Nigerian Humanitarian Fund, which is managed by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and provides life-saving assistance to communities affected by the conflict in the north east of the country. In 2021, Ireland also provided an additional €500,000 to UNOCHA to address increasing humanitarian needs in Niger. In 2022, Ireland also supported the ICRC with €2 million in funding for its humanitarian work in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali and Niger to meet the needs of communities affected by conflict, including those affected by violence from Boko Haram. At the EU, Ireland supports a strong EU humanitarian engagement in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin to address the need of most vulnerable communities. In 2022, the EU has allocated €554 million to respond to the severe needs in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, particularly to address the deteriorating food insecurity and nutrition crisis.
Since 2012, Ireland has provided over €57 million in direct humanitarian assistance to Somalia, including to communities displaced by conflict from al-Shabaab-held areas. In response to the intensifying drought, Ireland made its contributions to humanitarian pooled funds early this year, to ensure that funding was available in a timely manner, with over €5.1 million in direct humanitarian funding for Somalia so far in 2022. We have also contributed to the EU funding of €348 million for Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya, which includes humanitarian assistance and longer-term support to tackle root causes of food insecurity, including climate adaptation and mitigation measures. . With humanitarian needs in these regions remaining acute, Irish funding will continue to target those most in need.
Through the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) and the UN Peacebuilding Commission, the United Nations is helping stabilise the situation in the Lake Chad region. Ireland is penholder, together with Ghana, on the UNOWAS file at the UN Security Council. In its most recent Presidential Statement on peace consolidation in West Africa of 17 August 2021, the Security Council strongly condemned continued attacks against civilians in the region, and both attacks and threats of attacks against schools, children, and educational personnel, including abductions in Nigeria. Additionally, Ireland is a member of the International Support Group of the Regional Stabilisation Strategy for the Lake Chad Basin (ISG), and has observer status at the Sahel Alliance: both are forums which enable donors to coordinate support in addressing the challenges in Boko Haram-affected areas of the Lake Chad Basin.
The UN-mandated African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), a follow-on mission to the African Union-led peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM), which is primarily funded by the EU, assists the Federal Government of Somalia in its efforts to combat al-Shabaab. Ireland is supportive of plans to further transition security responsibilities to the Somali Security Forces. Ireland is Chair of the Somalia Sanctions Committee at the UN Security Council, which oversees an arms embargo and other tools to encourage a more peaceful and secure Somalia. This complements Ireland’s role as an EU Member State supporting development and governance in Somalia, including the strengthening of its institutions.
The EU has three Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) Missions in the Horn of Africa. A number of Irish nationals are deployed to the civilian mission EUCAP Somalia, including the Head of Mission. In the Sahel, Ireland currently has 20 Defence Forces personnel participating in EUTM Mali. Ireland also deploys one expert to the civilian mission EUCAP Sahel Niger. Fourteen Defence Forces personnel are deployed in the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). Ireland’s participation in these missions allows Ireland to contribute to peace and security, help protect human rights, and put in place conditions for sustainable development.