Ireland should be a moral leader on East Africa crisis – Mac Lochlainn
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Pádraig Mac Lochlainn TD, has called on the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore, to ensure that Ireland is a moral leader driving the international response to the East African crisis that has already claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
He was speaking after attending a meeting between the Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee and the heads of three Irish aid agencies working in the region, Concern, Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland.
Deputy Mac Lochlainn said:
“While the meeting agreed today that although Ireland's contribution of €7 million to this crisis, in proportion to our population, is to be commended, the international response has ranged from relatively poor to appalling.
“Much has been said of late about restoring Ireland's international reputation and here is an opportunity for Ireland to demonstrate moral leadership. Ireland and our wide range of aid agencies are respected across the world for being leaders in overseas aid and development. The recent visit by the former President of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, to Somalia has shone a light on the path for our government.
“Both the Taoiseach and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eamon Gilmore must immediately engage with their EU and international counterparts to ensure that all countries contribute equally on a per capita basis to the US$1.87 billion target set by the UN. At this point, there is a shameful short fall of $850 million".
“There are serious questions about the commitment of the US and many EU countries to resolving this crisis and saving literally hundreds of thousands of lives. Furthermore, what of the G20 nations and gulf states who have been massively enriched by developments favourable to oil producing nations over recent years?”
“In the medium to long term, there has to be a focused intervention in this region by the UN and the EU aimed at conflict resolution in Somalia and political stability in the entire Horn of Africa region.
“As Justin Kilcullen of Trócaire pointed out today, it is not drought in itself that kills so many people but dire poverty and the vulnerability to drought. A good starting point for the UN and the EU is to heed the advice of aid agencies operating in the region such as Concern, Trócaire and Oxfam Ireland as well as the many other heroic NGO volunteers on the ground.” ENDS