Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., today announced additional funding of €3 million in humanitarian assistance for those affected by the conflict in Syria. This brings Ireland’s total contribution to the international humanitarian response to almost €14 million.
The Minister announced the funding in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, where he is visiting a camp hosting some of the 780,000 refugees who have fled to Lebanon since the outbreak of violence in Syria.
The Minister said:
‘While efforts continue to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Syria, it is essential that the overwhelming humanitarian needs both in Syria and across the region are met. Our contribution today recognises the unprecedented scale of the crisis and the enormous demands on humanitarian agencies and neighbouring states. This funding will benefit those directly affected by the conflict and the communities here in Lebanon and in other neighbouring states which have shown such extraordinary generosity and solidarity to those fleeing Syria. It further demonstrates Ireland’s commitment to play a leading role in the global response to this crisis’.
Minister Costello will visit a health centre and a school in the camp to observe relief efforts and assess humanitarian needs on the ground. The camp was established in 1948 to house Palestinian refugees from Galilee but has more recently become home to Palestinian refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria.
€1m of the €3m funding announced will be directed to UN agencies in Lebanon.
Minister Costello added:
‘The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has described the conflict in Syria as the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of the Cold War. Almost 7 million people require urgent assistance to meet their basic needs. More than 2 million people have fled to neighbouring countries.
Lebanon is host to almost three quarter of a million refugees from Syria in addition to over a quarter of a million Palestinian refugees. They struggle to access adequate shelter and basic services and many are vulnerable to violence and sexual exploitation. With a similar population to Ireland, this gives some idea of the enormous pressure on its social services and infrastructure. Yet despite this, Lebanon has kept its border open to Syrian refugees. The funding I have announced today is Ireland’s contribution to helping Lebanon and other neighbouring states shoulder the burden of such large refugee numbers.’
In addition to humanitarian assistance, Ireland continues to support the ongoing political efforts to find a peaceful resolution to the Syrian conflict, including through funding the work of the Organisation for the Prohibition on Chemical Weapons towards the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks.
Note to editors:
• Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas development programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
• Since the uprising in Syria began in March 2011, it is estimated that over 100,000 people have been killed. The most urgent humanitarian needs are protection, health care, shelter, food and water and sanitation. The number of registered refugees and individuals awaiting registration as a result of the crisis currently stands at almost 2 million, of which 1 million are children.
• Ireland’s total contribution to the Syrian crisis response will stand at €13.8 million following today’s announcement of €3 million. This new funding will be provided to UNHCR (€500,000), UNRWA (€500,000), WFP (€750,000) and UN OCHA Emergency Response Fund (€1.25 million).
• Furthermore, at the request of the Department of Justice and Equality - as the Department responsible for refugee reception and resettlement in Ireland - a further €5,000 has been made available from Ireland’s humanitarian budget to cover travel costs for the emergency resettlement from Syria to Ireland of up to 30 refugees, as part of the European Commission’s ‘Preparatory Action’ funding initiative and in response to an appeal from the UNHCR.
• In addition to our support to the humanitarian needs on the ground, a contribution of €200,000 has been approved for the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons towards the destruction of Syrian chemical weapon stocks.
• To date in 2013, Ireland has also financed eight deployments of members of Ireland's Rapid Response Corps, a roster of skilled and experienced volunteers who make themselves available to deploy at short notice to work in humanitarian emergency situations, to support the relief operations of UN Agencies in Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt.