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Tánaiste calls for long-term solution to Horn of Africa famine

Irish Aid, Press Releases, Africa, 2011

The Tánaiste and Minster for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., has called on the international community to find a long term solution to the famine in the Horn of Africa.

Speaking at an international summit at the United Nations in New York (full statement below), which was opened by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, the Tánaiste stressed the importance of breaking the cycle of famine in the Horn of Africa, where more than 85,000 people have died this year as the result of a long-running drought.

The Tánaiste also pledged a further €10 million in humanitarian assistance to the poorest and most vulnerable in the region before the end of 2012 – doubling the €10 million which the Government has committed to date in 2011. These funds will be provided from the Irish Aid overseas development budget.

“Unless we tackle the problem with sustainable long-term solutions these same people will be pushed over the edge again next year and again the following year,” the Tánaiste told the summit. 

“The global approach to the Horn of Africa must look beyond the trauma of the present and towards the long-term. We need to break this cycle of food shortages, once and for all,” he said.

The Tánaiste cited Irish Aid development work aimed at improving agricultural productivity by providing improved seeds and fertilisers to poor farmers, as well as its support for a programme in Ethiopia credited with preventing 500,000 people from falling victim to the crisis. The programme provides cash payments to poor communities in exchange for labour on public works with a positive environmental impact. Up to seven million people per year benefit from the programme.

“Without programmes of this nature, the numbers currently in desperate need of food assistance in the Horn could be much higher,” the Tánaiste said.

“Before this crisis hit, Ireland had already helped many communities to feed themselves even in times of drought.  We will continue to promote a long term solution to this crisis, while also intensifying our humanitarian relief work to address the immediate needs of those affected.”