Fine Gael TD for Galway West & Mayo South

Parliamentary Question no. 34 on Thursday, 17th May 2012

* To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the contribution Ireland is making in the humanitarian relief efforts necessitated by the conflict between various groups in Sudan and newly formed South Sudan; and if Ireland has participated in the attempt to resolve the conflict and assist civilians at both EU and UN levels.

 

Reply:

The Government is gravely concerned about the deteriorating humanitarian situation in several areas of Sudan, most notably in the states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, where an estimated 350,000 civilians have been severely affected by fighting between the Sudanese Armed Forces and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N).  In addition to those affected within these two states, some 140,000 refugees have already fled to Ethiopia and South Sudan, while 100,000 more have been displaced as a result of fighting around the disputed border area of Abyei.

Ireland, together with our EU partners is responding to the situation and is supporting efforts to bring an end to the continuing conflict across the border region. We are particularly concerned about the issue of humanitarian access for NGOs and international relief agencies to the areas affected by conflict. We have raised the issue of access at EU level and in other international fora.

In January last, and with Ireland’s encouragement, the European Union urged the Government of Sudan to allow safe and unhindered access for international humanitarian workers to all civilians and reiterated its readiness to provide humanitarian assistance to all those in need. The EU also emphasised that the ongoing conflicts in Southern Kordofan, Blue Nile and Darfur remain obstacles to moving forward with the full range of support that the EU would like to provide to Sudan. Last month, the EU called on the Government of Sudan and the SPLM North to engage in an inclusive political process to resolve the conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile.

On 2 May, the United Nations Security Council adopted a Resolution condemning the recent cross-border conflict between Sudan and South Sudan including support to proxy forces and aerial bombardment. The Resolution called on both parties to cease all hostilities within 48 hours of the adoption of the resolution, to withdraw their forces, to activate previously agreed on security mechanisms and to resume negotiations under the auspices of the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel.

Despite huge challenges, humanitarian agencies are managing to gain limited access to some vulnerable communities in South Kordofan. Both the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have provided assistance to displaced people and affected host communities.

Through Irish Aid in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Government has recently allocated €2 million for the UN-managed Common Humanitarian Funds for both the Republic of Sudan and South Sudan.  These funds are being used to help UN agencies target the most critical humanitarian needs across both countries, including in areas beset by conflict and affected by displacement from Blue Nile and South Kordofan.  A further €1.22 million has been made available to Irish NGOs for programmes in Sudan and South Sudan under the annual Humanitarian Programme Planning (HPP) funding scheme. We are actively examining the possibility of providing further support as access conditions improve and the needs on the ground become clearer.

The Government will continue to monitor closely the situation in South Kordofan and the Nuba Mountains, and along with our EU partners we will continue to press for unrestricted humanitarian access to affected civilians.

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