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Minister Coveney Addresses High Level Meeting on Famine and Prevention

Hunger, Poverty, News/feature, Africa, Ireland, 2017

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Coveney T.D., addressed a High-level event on famine in the margins of the 72nd Session of the UN General Assembly in New York. In his statement Minister Coveney stressed the need to address the root causes of food insecurity, in particular through conflict resolution, and underlined the critical role the Security Council can play in resolving and preventing conflicts.

Noting the contribution made by the international community and by Ireland to the relief efforts for famine in South Sudan, Somalia, the Lake Chad basin and Yemen to date, Minister Coveney stated:

“The $2.4 billion provided to the response in the four countries, and indeed the more than $30 million provided by Irish tax payers, is greatly devalued if we do not act to halt these preventable famines, and in particular, rigorously pursue conflict resolution through all avenues”.

The Minister highlighted the importance of working more effectively in humanitarian response and connecting it with longer-term development. Referring to efforts to hinder or prevent humanitarian actors in delivering aid, the Minister stated:

“Preventing humanitarian access to those in need and those starving is unacceptable, and when used as a tactic in conflict situations, it is a crime. Ireland calls on all actors to uphold their obligations under International Humanitarian Laws, and those who violate it must be called to account”.



 Notes to the editor:

  • The event was hosted by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, together with the President of the World Bank, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and followed on from a UN and World Bank hosted event on Famine Prevention and Response (Washington, April 2017) which produced a ‘roadmap’ document outlining how to strengthen collaboration and efficient delivery of assistance, and to mitigate and manage longer term risks, in relation to famine prevention and response.
  • In February 2017, following the declaration of famine in South Sudan, the UN Secretary General issued a call to action to the international community to avert famine threatening more than 20 million people in four countries – South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen. Despite the provision of over $2.4bn in assistance, millions remain at risk of famine, and 1.4 million children are severely malnourished.
  • Coupled with the risk of famine is these four countries, food and nutrition security conditions are also  dire in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya, the Lake Chad basin, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Ireland has provided over €25 million to the four crises to date this year, including the response in the broader Lake Chad region, which includes North East Nigeria. We have also provided humanitarian assistance to Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Ireland’s humanitarian assistance is delivered by UN, Red Cross and NGO partners on the ground and is focused on saving lives and alleviating the suffering of crisis affected people, including through meeting their immediate and most basic needs, providing emergency food and livelihoods assistance, treating acute malnutrition, providing shelter and protection, and providing emergency services in health care, water & sanitation and education.  
  • 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 visit www.irishaid.ie 
  • The eradication of hunger and under-nutrition is been a cornerstone of Ireland’s development aid programme, Irish Aid, and a key pillar of our foreign policy.
  • Drawing on Ireland’s own unique development experience in the area of hunger, nutrition and food security, Ireland advocates for and supports international efforts to seize opportunities to build resilience at individual, community and national level, even while saving lives in times of crisis.  Our prioritisation of hunger and nutrition is contributing to stronger links between relief, rehabilitation and development.