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Minister Flanagan to visit the Middle East

Diplomatic Relations, Minister Charles Flanagan, Security, Trade, United Nations, Press Releases, Middle East and North Africa, 2015

Minister Flanagan to visit the Middle East

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, today (Sunday) begins a week-long visit to the Middle East.

This is Minister Flanagan’s first visit to the region as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade.  The visit will take in Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan.

It will contain a number of elements: the Minister will visit Irish peacekeepers in Lebanon; he will meet with politicians to discuss the Middle East Peace Process; he will meet with UNRWA in Gaza and visit the Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan – Ireland provides significant humanitarian funds to both; and he will engage with members of the Irish community and with businesspeople to promote Ireland in Israel and Jordan.

 

UNIFIL

In Lebanon, the Minister will visit the Irish peacekeepers attached to UNIFIL in the south of the country and hear of their experiences, including the impact of the ongoing conflict in Syria on the context of their work.

“Ireland has a proud tradition of peace-keeping in this region. I am delighted to have the opportunity to see at first-hand the vital work our peacekeeping troops are undertaking.”

 

Political Meetings

In Israel and Palestine, Minister Flanagan will meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian representatives, and with UN officials.

The Minister’s programme will include a meeting with the Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Prime Minister, Rami Hamdallah.

“The Middle East Peace Process is a global issue, and it is also an issue of concern to the Government, to the Oireachtas and to the Irish people.  This visit offers an opportunity to hear the views of different parties and to see the situation on the ground.

“I am pleased to have the opportunity to meet with key players on both sides.   I look forward to hearing their perspectives and having an exchange of views.

“My visit will inform my discussions with Cabinet colleagues and with our EU partners in Brussels in the months ahead.”

 

UNRWA

It is expected that the Minister will also visit Gaza, in the company of the Commissioner General of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Pierre Krähenbühl, to see the humanitarian situation on the ground. 

“The ongoing humanitarian challenges in Gaza were compounded by last year’s conflict.  Tens of thousands of people were left homeless and critical infrastructure was destroyed. 

“Ireland has been a consistent supporter of UNRWA’s work and it is important that I see close up the challenges they, and the people of Gaza, face.

“Since 2005, we have provided over €44 million in support to UNRWA, underlining Ireland’s commitment to meeting the needs of the most vulnerable Palestinian people.”

 

Al Zaatari Refugee Camp

At the end of the week, Minister Flanagan will visit Al Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, the largest refugee camp in the world. 

“The conflict in Syria has resulted in a humanitarian crisis almost beyond imagining.  The crisis is now a regional one.   It remains the single greatest focus of Ireland’s official humanitarian assistance, with over €29 million being provided since the outbreak of the crisis.”

 

Irish Community and Business

Minister Flanagan will meet with members of the Irish community in Tel Aviv and Amman and businesses with trade links to Ireland.  He stated:

“While the focus of this visit is primarily political and humanitarian, I want to also avail of the opportunity to promote Ireland.  I look forward to meeting members of the Irish community living in the region and to engaging with businesspeople in my capacity as Trade Minister. 

 

ENDS
Press Office
15 February 2015