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Minister Flanagan & MoS McHugh announce €5 million in humanitarian funding for Syria & Yemen

- Minister Flanagan condemns cowardly attacks on hospitals and medical facilities in Syria

- Minister of State McHugh stresses the importance of investing in Syria’s youth

- In Yemen, 80% of the population is in need of humanitarian assistance

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan TD, and the Minister of State for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid, Joe McHugh, TD, today announced €3 million in Irish Aid humanitarian funding, in response to the tragic crisis in Syria.

On announcing the €3million funding for Syria, Minister Flanagan said:

“The Syrian conflict and its harrowing effects on the people of Syria continues to dominate the agenda of foreign affairs ministers at our gatherings. Last Monday at the Foreign Affairs Council EU Foreign Ministers expressed strong support for the UN’s efforts to reach a political solution to the conflict and for the UN work to break the sieges which are denying basic humanitarian assistance to hundreds of thousands of Syrians.

“While this work is happening, civilians are in dire straits. Life inside Syria has become almost impossible, and 13.5 million people there are in need of humanitarian assistance. We must ensure that these people are not forgotten, so €2 million of today’s €3 million in Syria funding is directed to organisations which are working inside the country, in an appallingly difficult environment

“I reiterate my call on parties to the conflict to grant sustained humanitarian access to all populations, and to allow for the unhindered delivery of vital humanitarian relief. I condemn the cowardly attacks on hospitals and medical facilities, and I am appalled that convoys of medicines, food supplies, and even baby food have been prevented from reaching their destinations.

The funding announced today includes €1 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which has a track record of getting relief to hard-to-reach areas and besieged towns, and €1 million for the UN’s Turkey Humanitarian Pooled Fund, which is based in Turkey but delivers aid exclusively cross-border into northern Syria.

Minister of State McHugh, on his return from the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, said:

“With the Syria crisis now in its sixth year,a whole generation is at risk of being lost to the war, with over 9 million of those affected being under the age of 18. We need to invest in Syria’s youth, and most importantly, rebuild their educational opportunities. This starts with restoring schools, building new ones for displaced children and providing support services for children who have been traumatised by their experiences in this crisis.”

Irish Aid has today allocated €1 million to UNICEF for its activities as part of the regional No Lost Generation initiative in Syria and the wider region.
Ministers Flanagan and McHugh also announced €2 million in humanitarian support for Yemen, where a deadly civil war which erupted in March 2015 has left 21 million people in need of help, with Minister McHugh saying:

“The scale of humanitarian need in Yemen is difficult to comprehend, with 21.1 million people, over 80% of the population, in need of assistance. Prior to the current crisis, many of these people were already experiencing extreme levels of poverty, deprivation and food insecurity.”

Yemen is an arid country, where the long-term effects of drought and poverty have been exacerbated by a conflict which erupted in March 2015. Irish Aid will contribute €2 million to the UN’s Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund, which makes use of local knowledge to ensure that those frontline organisations who are best-placed to respond, are given the means to reach those in need.

Press Office
27 May 2016

Notes for editors:

  • This funding is a step towards fulfilling Ireland’s pledge to provide €20 million in humanitarian support for the Syrian people this year, which will bring our total support to the Syrian people over the course of this five-year conflict to €62 million by the end of 2016.
  • The Syria crisis, now in its sixth year, has affected over 18 million Syrians, or 75% of the population. Over 4.8 million people have sought refuge in neighbouring countries and 13.5 million of the people still inside Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance in order to survive. Half of the refugee populationand almost half of those in need inside Syria are under the age 18. It is estimated that two million Syrian children inside Syria, and 700,000 in neighbouring countries, are out of school. Many children have experienced severe psychological distressdue to the conflict.
  • In 2015, Ireland provided over €14 million in response to the Syria crisis, allocated to UN, Red Cross and NGO partners. Total funding to Syria from 2012-2015 reached €42 million, and at the London conference on Syria in February 2016, Ireland pledged to provide a further €20 million in the course of 2016. 
  • Today’s funding for Syria has been allocated today to UN and Red Cross partners, as follows: €1 million for the ICRC’s work inside Syria; €1 million for the UN Turkey Humanitarian Pooled Fund; and €1 million for UNICEF’s work under the ‘No Lost Generation’ initiative. 
  • The ICRC has played a key role in negotiating the delivery of lifesaving aid, such as food, medical supplies and water to besieged towns around Syria, where nearly half a million people live. In January 2016, for example, it was able to deliver aid to Madaya and three other besieged towns.In addition to providing medical services in Syria, which is ICRC’s core area of work, ICRC has extended its support to basic service delivery, such as maintaining water infrastructure and food assistance, in areas where it has the best access. Irish Aid previously supported ICRC’s work in the Syria crisis in 2014 and 2015. So far in 2016, Ireland has provided €8.5 million for the ICRC’s work globally, including €1 million specifically for its work in South Sudan.
  • Ireland is a strong supporter of the UN’s Country Based Pooled Funds. They are particularly well-placed to channel funding to local NGOs, which may have better access to those in need, but find it hard to access international donor funding directly. In 2015, Ireland provided €20 million to pooled funds globally, so far in 2016 €15 million has been provided.The UN’sTurkey Humanitarian Pooled Fund (THPF), despite its name, provides assistance exclusively for cross-border assistance into northern Syria. It channels 48% of its support to Syrian NGOs, who are better able to reach those in insecure areas. In 2015, Ireland provided €1 million to the fund.
  • The No Lost Generationinitiative, initiated by UNICEF in 2013, encompasses the work of the UN, NGOs and Governments in the areas of education and child protectionunder a joint framework for action, implementing a coordinated response in order to protect children, adolescent and youths from the threat of poverty through the provision of equitable educational and protection services within Syria and the refugee hosting countries of Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Egypt. Ireland provided €1 million to UNICEF in support of its work under the initiative.
  • Today’s funding for Yemen has been allocated to the UN’s Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund. Ireland has provided consistent support to the YHPF for over five years, including €1 million in 2015. As with the Turkey Humanitarian Pooled Fund, the YHPF uses local knowledge to allocate funding to the most effective partners. 
  • In 2016, the UN Humanitarian Response Plan for Yemen is requesting $1.8 billion to reach the 21 million people in need, but currently it is only 17% funded.In addition to funding to the YHPF, Ireland has supported ICRC and Oxfam’s work in Yemen in 2015, and the work of GOAL and International Rescue Committee so far in 2016.