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In 2021, Ireland provided humanitarian aid to vulnerable communities across the globe

At the beginning of 2021, the United Nations estimated that 235 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance in 56 countries across the globe.  By the end of the year, the UN estimated that the number of people in need had risen to a staggering 274 million people. That is more than 50 times the number of people living in Ireland. If all were living in one country, it would be the fourth largest in the world.

In the face of escalating needs, Ireland’s funding for humanitarian response has increased steadily in recent years. In 2020, total humanitarian spend was €192 million – and Ireland was one of the top twenty humanitarian donors worldwide.

Reflecting on Ireland’s support to humanitarian crises in 2021, Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, Colm Brophy T.D., said:

Despite our own challenges in 2021, Ireland continued its proud tradition of standing by those in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Our funding supported crises large and small, including those underfunded and neglected crises such as Myanmar, Iraq and Venezuela. And it prioritised those most impacted, including women, children and people living with disabilities.

“Irish Aid aims to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance when necessary, but also to reduce humanitarian need over the longer term. When disaster strikes our support is swift and effective. And when needs endure we stay and support.

“I am incredibly proud of Ireland’s support to humanitarian crises in 2021. Our contributions to averting famine in South Sudan, providing essential health care in Yemen, food baskets in Madagascar and supporting protection services for women and girls in Syria have been a lifeline for millions.

“2022 is set to be another challenging year. Civilians, particularly women and girls, continue to be the most affected by conflict, multiple famines loom, COVID-19 shows no signs of abating, and climate related disaster events are more frequent. This is the time to re-double our efforts and to continue to stand by those who are most in need."

In 2021, as conflict, Covid and climate change devastated communities across the globe, Ireland stood in solidarity with those most in need.  At the outset of 2021, Ireland provided funding to support critical humanitarian assistance and protection in countries and regions such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and the Sahel.

As the situation deteriorated in many countries, Ireland dug deep. We provided additional funding to support the provision of much needed assistance in Myanmar, Lebanon and Venezuela, and we responded quickly to rapidly deteriorating situations in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Mozambique.

Over the course of the year, Ireland also provided rapid relief to unforeseen events such as the volcanic eruption in St.Vincent & Grenadines, the earthquake in Haiti and, most recently, Typhoon Rai in the Philippines.

Examples of Ireland’s support to specific humanitarian crises in 2021 include;

In Afghanistan, €5 million was provided to support the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund, UNHCR, UNICEF and NGO partners.

In Ethiopia, €24.5 million was provided to support the Ethiopian Humanitarian Fund, UNICEF, UNHCR, the ICRC and NGO partners. A number of experts from Ireland’s Rapid Response corps were deployed to Ethiopia in roles such as child protection and civil military coordination.

In Somalia, €6 million was provided to support the Somalia Humanitarian Fund and NGO partners.

In response to the Syria crisis, €16 million was provided to support the Syria Cross-border Humanitarian Fund, the UN World Food Programme (WFP), the ICRC, and NGO partners for programming in Syria and across the wider region.

In response to the crisis in Venezuela, €2.5 million was provided to support the Venezuelan Humanitarian Fund and to UNHCR for the regional appeal for refugees and migrants from Venezuela. Under Ireland’s rapid response programme, a deployment of humanitarian supplies was sent to support Venezuelan migrants arriving in Colombia.



Press Office

31 December 2021

  • Irish Aid is an all-of-Government programme. In 2020, the Government invested over €867 million on Ireland’s overseas aid programme. The bulk of this funding – €545 million – was managed by the Department of Foreign Affairs. The remaining €322 million was allocated through other government departments, mainly the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, the Department of Finance, and through Ireland’s contribution to the EU Development Co-operation Budget.
  • Of the total spend in 2020, 35% (€192m) was allocated to humanitarian assistance.
  • The top ten countries to receive Irish Aid humanitarian support in 2021 were: Syria (€14.8m), Yemen (€6m), Somalia (€6m), South Sudan (€5.5m), Afghanistan (€5.3m), DRC (€4.25m), CAR (€3.7m), Lebanon (€3.6m), Sudan (€3.5m) Jordan (€2.8m).
  • In addition to country specific funding, Ireland provides core funding to key humanitarian partners, including ICRC, IFRC, UN OCHA, UNICEF, UNHCR, WFP and NGOs. Ireland also supports the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF). In 2021, Ireland was the 9th largest donor to the CERF.
  • The Humanitarian Funds are pooled donor funds that are managed at country level by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). In 2021, 75% of funding was allocated to NGOs. In 2021, Ireland was the 8th largest donor to the UN pooled donor funds.
  • A Better World, Ireland’s policy for international development, identifies four core areas for Irish Aid support: reducing humanitarian need; gender equality; climate action; and governance. The 2020 Annual Report can be accessed at IrishAid - Department of Foreign Affairs

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