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Minister Costello to discuss crisis in the Horn of Africa at a meeting of EU Ministers in Copenhagen

Irish Aid, Press Releases, Africa, 2012

Minister of State for Trade and Development Joe Costello, T.D., will today meet EU Development Ministers in Copenhagen to tackle the ongoing food crisis in the Horn of Africa, which affected more than 13 million people at its peak last year.

At this morning’s meeting, EU Ministers will be joined by representatives from the United Nations to discuss ways of increasing coordination on food security and supporting communities to build their defences against natural disasters such as drought over the longer term.

To date Ireland has provided €16 million to agencies responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa. The funding is being used to provide emergency food assistance, water, shelter and basic healthcare to the worst-affected communities.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Minister Costello said:

“Across the Horn of Africa, almost 10 million people continue to be affected by the most severe food crisis to face the region in 60 years.  Conditions are particularly difficult in Somalia where we have been calling on all parties to ensure that humanitarian agencies are given full, safe and unhindered access to those in need. 

This morning we will look at how we can best strengthen coordination amongst the international community in order to ensure that we are reaching vulnerable communities.   We will also examine ways to help such communities to prepare for droughts and other natural crises well before they occur.

I will discuss how we can ensure that vulnerable families have access to safe and nutritious food and how we can increase their resilience over the longer term, including through social protection systems.  It is also crucial that we consider solutions for families who have been displaced from their homes and are currently living in camps.”

Minister Costello said Ministers will also discuss the upcoming Rio+20 conference taking place in June 2012.  Rio+20 is the United Nations’ Conference on Sustainable Development and will mark 20 years since the Earth Summit took place in 1992.

Later today Minister Costello will meet with other EU Ministers to discuss Ireland’s priorities for the EU Presidency in 2013. He will also attend a high-level IDA Conference where he will meet with potential Danish investors and highlight the opportunities that Ireland offers.