At the beginning of 2017, approximately 65 million people worldwide are displaced from their homes and 130 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of ongoing violence, conflict and natural disaster.
Ireland is responding to these people’s urgent needs through our humanitarian assistance programme, managed by Irish Aid.
Our overall goal is to save and protect lives, reduce suffering and maintain human dignity, before, during and in the aftermath of humanitarian crises.
In 2016, Ireland’s total humanitarian funding amounted to more than €150 million.
A significant amount of Ireland’s 2016 humanitarian assistance was directed to crises in the Middle East, including €25 million in response to the Syria crisis, bringing our total funding to Syria and the region to more than €67 million since 2012. Ireland also responded to the dire humanitarian situation of people in Iraq, providing over €3 million in 2016, and in Yemen, providing over €4 million in 2016, as a result of ongoing conflict.
Ireland continues to provide significant humanitarian assistance (more than €22 million in 2016) in the Horn of Africa, to countries including South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia. In particular, Ireland provided more than €11 million to assist the people of South Sudan, where people’s lives continue to be critically affected by ongoing violence and severe food shortages. Similarly, in north east Nigeria, more than €3 million was contributed to meet people’s urgent humanitarian needs as a result of ongoing insurgency.
In the Caribbean, responding to Hurricane Matthew in October 2016, Ireland provided just over €2 million in humanitarian assistance to partners in Haiti.
A central feature of Ireland’s overseas humanitarian assistance programme is the Rapid Response Initiative, which includes the Rapid Response Corps. In 2016, Irish Aid deployed 37 Rapid Responders to 20 countries and deployed 10 airlifts carrying 357 tonnes of emergency relief stocks to meet urgent humanitarian needs across the globe. Items distributed by Ireland include tents, water containers, hygiene kits and basic tools such as shovels and pickaxes. These items often prove critical to families attempting to set up temporary homes for themselves in the immediate aftermath of a crisis.
Reflecting on Ireland’s growing humanitarian efforts in 2016, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. acknowledged the continued generosity of the Irish people:
‘Unfortunately in 2016 many millions of people around the world were forced to leave their homes through conflict or natural disasters. Irish humanitarian funding is provided to those worst affected; where the needs are greatest. This is the fundamental principle which underlines our decisions. Often our funding goes to crises which do not make the news headlines, the ‘forgotten crises’, which other donors neglect. Ireland has responded to global need this year with over €150 million in humanitarian funding to organisations like the UN and the Red Cross; and to Irish NGOs like Trócaire and Concern. These organisations help us bring food, water, shelter and protection to the men, women and children who face disaster without it. This contribution to humanitarian crises around the world is made possible by the continued generosity of the Irish people.’