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Tánaiste highlights Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative for 2017


Tánaiste highlights Ireland’s Rapid Response Initiative for 2017


2017 has been a year of unprecedented humanitarian crises – the UN estimate that 136 million people across the world need humanitarian aid and protection due to protracted conflicts, natural disasters, epidemics and displacement. Ireland has a long and strong tradition of providing humanitarian assistance when and where it is needed most.

For the last ten years, a key element of Ireland’s humanitarian support has been Irish Aid’s Rapid Response Initiative. Under the initiative we respond in a practical way by sending life-saving emergency relief supplies and deploying highly-skilled personnel to crises locations.

In 2017, 31 Irish Aid Rapid Responders provided more than 4,000 days of critical support, across a wide range of expertise, for the humanitarian response operations for 14 countries. This included, for example, a child protection specialist supporting UNICEF’s operations in Haiti, a civil–military coordinator working with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) in Northern Nigeria, and a water/sanitation expert working with UNHCR in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh.

Also under the Rapid Response programme in 2017, we deployed 7 consignments carrying 357 tonnes of emergency relief supplies into humanitarian crises. These supplies were provided to families affected by the protracted crises in South Sudan and Somalia, and to those affected by the sudden onset humanitarian crises arising from forced displacement in Bangladesh/Myanmar and from flooding and landslides in Sierra Leone. In total, these life-saving supplies benefited 9,000 households, or approximately 50,000 people.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D. stated: 

“The Rapid Response Initiative continues to be a central feature of Ireland’s overseas humanitarian assistance programme. It is an impactful and flexible tool that enables us to demonstrate the Irish people’s solidarity with those affected by humanitarian crises, whether sudden onset crises such as in Bangladesh and Sierra Leone, or more protracted, horrific humanitarian crises such as in South Sudan, DRC, Somalia and Nigeria.  

In 2017, we have deployed 31 rapid responders for 14 countries to work as much needed surge capacity and provide specialised skills to our UN partners’ humanitarian response operations. I am proud of the work that they do in very difficult environments.

The 357 tonnes of emergency relief supplies delivered under the Rapid Response programme into humanitarian crises in 2017 saved many lives, and made life more liveable for many thousands more.

I regret that because of conflict, climate change and natural disasters, in 2018 we will once again be called upon to use the Rapid Response Initiative. However, there is some comfort in knowing that we can and do respond, and that it makes a difference.”



Notes to Editors


  • Irish Aid is the Government’s overseas assistance programme. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. For further information see The Rapid Response Strategy, published in 2015, sets out how the Department operates the Rapid Response Initiative, the partners we work with and how we implement it.


  • The Rapid Response Corps is a standby roster of highly skilled and experienced professionals available to deploy at short notice to humanitarian emergencies anywhere in the world.  When deployed, roster members fill specific skills gaps identified by four Irish Aid standby partner organisations: the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); the World Food Programme (WFP); the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA); and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In 2017, Irish Aid deployed 31 rapid responders – 17 to UNICEF, 6 to OCHA, 5 to UNHCR and 3 to WFP.  


  • The deployment of our stocks is managed by the UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) Network, a network of strategically located depots that procures, stores, and transports emergency relief supplies on behalf of the humanitarian community. Ireland pre-positions relief supplies in five of these depots - in Accra (Ghana), Brindisi (Italy), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), and Panama City (Panama). These depots are strategically located near crisis and disaster-prone areas, within airport complexes or close to ports, ensuring transport costs are kept to a minimum and permitting the rapid dispatch of supplies into crisis and emergency situations


  • In 2017, we deployed 7 consignments carrying 357 tonnes of emergency relief supplies into crises, to benefit 9,000 households, or approximately 50,000 people. The stocks are distrusted by a humanitarian organisation on the ground. In 2017 the relief items were distributedin:
    • Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, to families affected by the crisis (distributed by IOM) 
    • Freetown, Sierra Leone (distributed by Concern);
    • Somalia (distributed by Concern and Trocaire)
    • South Sudan and Uganda to families affected by violence and conflict in South Sudan (3 consignments, distributed by Plan International and UNHCR)


  • A short video, produced by Trócaire, of the stocks deployment in Somalia is available to view on Youtube here: