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President Higgins meets South Sudanese refugees in Gambella, Ethiopia

Emergencies, News/feature, Ethiopia, Ireland, 2014
President Higgins visits GOAL Nutrition Centre, Tierkadi Refugee Camp

President Higgins visits GOAL Nutrition Centre, Tierkadi Refugee Camp

President Higgins meets South Sudanese refugees in Gambella, Ethiopia

President Michael D. Higgins, accompanied by Minister Sherlock, today visited refugee camps in Gambella, Ethiopia, where he met with some of those fleeing the conflict in neighbouring South Sudan.

Widespread violence against civilians in South Sudan has forced almost two million people to flee their homes. The dead and the wounded are estimated to be in the tens of thousands. Almost 4 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, and half a million have taken refuge in neighbouring countries, including Ethiopia. The refugee camps in Gambella are just some of the camps that provide shelter to those fleeing the conflict.

During today’s visit, President Higgins witnessed the vital work taking place in the nutrition centres of Irish Aid partners, Goal and Concern. The nutrition centres provide vital emergency nutrition to the men, women and children who have been forced to take shelter at the camp. 

Coinciding with the visit, the Government has announced an additional €2 million in Irish Aid funding to respond to the deepening crisis in South Sudan. €1 million will go to Médecins sans Frontières, GOAL, Plan Ireland and Concern to provide health care, clean water and sanitation and education for South Sudanee refugees in Gambella. The remaining will go to Concern, Christian Aid and Trócaire for programmes in South Sudan to provide emergency nutrition, improve food security and assist people to develop livelihoods.  

Coinciding with the visit, the Government has announced an additional €2 million in Irish Aid funding to respond to the deepening crisis in South Sudan.

The funding responds to the worsening situation in South Sudan and neighbouring countries. Currently more than 1 million children will require treatment for acute malnutrition in 2014 in South Sudan. Of these, an estimated 50,000 are at risk of dying from malnutrition without adequate humanitarian assistance. Severe Acute Malnutrition among children under the age of five has doubled since January 2014 across South Sudan. As insecurity continues to mount in parts of South Sudan and given the extreme food insecurity reported in much of the country, it is predicted that an additional 100,000 new refugees will cross the border into Gambella Region, Ethiopia in the last quarter of 2014.