Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion and North South Co-operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, announced today that the Government is to contribute €3 million to provide food, medicines, education and vital supplies to thousands of families in South Sudan who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of conflict.
Widespread violence from the civil war in South Sudan has forced almost 2 million people to flee their homes, the majority of whom have been displaced within South Sudan, while almost half a million people have taken refuge in neighbouring countries.
Announcing the funding, which is drawn from Irish Aid’s humanitarian budget, Minister Seán Sherlock said:
“More than a year after the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan, the political situation remains fragile and the humanitarian outlook is grim.
“The world’s youngest country stands on the brink of famine and the needs of refugees and host communities in the region continue to increase. Almost 6.5 million people are at risk of not being able to feed themselves and 2.5 million people are facing dire hunger right now.”
South Sudanese refugees in camps in the Gambella region of western Ethiopia provide shelter to many of the almost 200,000 South Sudanese who have fled to Ethiopia as a result of the conflict. The vast majority of South Sudanese refugees arriving in Ethiopia are women and children, often malnourished and in poor health.
Recalling his visit to Gambella, Minister Sherlock said:
“I saw for myself the devastating impact of the crisis in South Sudan when I accompanied President Higgins on a visit to the refugee camp in Gambella, in Ethiopia, last November.
“It is vital that we keep global attention on this severe humanitarian crisis and its impact on the region.
“Ireland is playing its part in this. We are working hard to support our UN and NGO partners working on the ground to protect vulnerable women and children, and to meet their food, nutrition and health needs.
“The funding we have announced today brings our total funding to the South Sudan crisis to €14 million since the outbreak of hostilities almost 14 months ago.”
The funding of €3 million is being provided to the United Nations Common Humanitarian Fund for South Sudan, which plays a key role in providing fast, flexible funding to a wide range of partners, including the World Food Programme, the World Health Organisation, UNICEF, and NGOs to continue their life-saving work.
Members of Ireland’s Rapid Response Corps are currently deployed to South Sudan, working with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Juba; with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the Gambella refugee camps. The Rapid Response Corps is a register of highly skilled individuals who deploy at short notice to assist in emergency relief efforts.
Ireland’s funding pledge was made at an international donor’s conference in Nairobi, which was attended by Dr. Vincent O’Neill, Ambassador of Ireland to Kenya.