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Sinn Féín calls for clarity on aid to Niger

8 August, 2005


Sinn  Féin  Councillor Killian Forde has called for "clarification, through
the publication of correspondence between the UN’s World Food Programme and
Minister  for Overseas Aid Conor Lenihan's office since last summer, on the
reasons  why his department either ignored or refused to provide preventive
famine funding for Niger."

On  Thursday  last  Councillor  Forde  revealed  that  there  had been four
separate  requests  for  funding made to Conor Lenihan's department. Two of
these requests were made while Ireland was a full board member of the World
Food Programme.

Former  overseas  aid worker Councillor Forde said, “Due to inaction by the
international  community  a  food  security  problem  of the autumn of 2004
became  a  famine in the summer of 2005. It is not good enough for Minister
Lenihan  to  plead  that  they  are  trying  their best – there needs to be
answers  on why a relatively small preventable and inexpensive problem last
year  resulted  in  the  a  disaster involving 3.6 million this year.  This
famine  was  not  inevitable and is indeed unique in that it is the world’s
first major famine in a democratic independent country with a free press.

“The reliance that the Aid Agencies have on home government funding coupled
with  the  silence  and  isolation  of  those  suffering the effects of the
Departments slow response means that cock-ups like this do not get exposed.
Lenihan’s  department  need  to  be  held  to  account and questions on the
refusal  to  fund  Niger  until  starving  children  appeared on TV need to
addressed.  I want to see internal procedures and funding criteria examined
and assessed so that it does not reoccur. I am calling for clarity, through
the publication of correspondence between the UN's World Food Programme and
Minister  for Overseas Aid Conor Lenihan's office since last summer, on the
reasons  why his department either ignored or refused to provide preventive
famine funding for Niger.” ENDS

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