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Minister of State announces €5 million in funding for emergency relief in the Sahel

Irish Aid, Press Releases, Africa, 2012

The Minister of State for Trade and Development, Joe Costello T.D., today announced emergency funding for the Sahel region of West Africa, where 10 million people are at risk from a growing serious food crisis. 

€5 million is being made available to support the relief activities of major UN agencies, the Red Cross and NGOs and will help in the provision of emergency food assistance to thousands of malnourished children and adults.

Speaking ahead of a meeting with Dr Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response, Minister Costello said:

“Even in good years, many people in the Sahel have struggled to survive.  Food and nutrition insecurity have become long-term, chronic problems and the growing level of poverty and inequality mean that there is no buffer when things go wrong.

Aid agencies are already warning that the current crisis is one of the worst to face the region in years.  Last year, despite warnings, many governments and aid organisations failed to respond early enough to the crisis in the Horn of Africa.  If we do not act decisively now, millions of people in the Sahel will die and a crisis will become a catastrophe.

We also need to work harder to reduce the risk of droughts or disasters from happening in the first place.  By tackling the root causes of crises such as this one, we will help those most in need and ensure that our support is used in the best and most cost-effective manner.  I look forward to discussing ways in which the EU can help advance such an approach during my discussions later today with Commissioner Georgieva”.

Across the region, the UN is reporting that a combination of drought, poverty, high grain prices, environmental degradation and years of underdevelopment is likely to plunge countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, northern Cameroon and northern Nigeria into a new food and nutrition crisis. 

International agencies forced to tackle the emergency have already requested more than US $720 million in aid.  The Minister also referred to Irish Aid’s ongoing efforts to encourage other donors and aid agencies to link longer-term development activities with humanitarian responses.