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Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.

Wednesday, 27 March 2002

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 551 No. 3

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Mr. Coveney asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the work that Irish aid agencies are undertaking in Afghanistan to provide humanitarian assistance. [10281/02]

Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Cowen): The Government is providing significant humanitarian support for Afghanistan, including through Irish non-governmental organisations with whom we have an established working partnership there. The Irish NGOs are and will continue to be key partners in the delivery of both our reconstruction and emergency support commitments. During 2001, the Government provided a total of €5.08 million in emergency humanitarian assistance for Afghanistan. Nearly €2 million of this was channelled through Christian Aid Ireland, Concern, GOAL and Trócaire. 2002 marks the first year of the Government's pledge to provide €12 million in reconstruction support to Afghani[799] stan over a three-year period. This will be provided in addition to our ongoing emergency humanitarian assistance.

So far this year, a total of more than €1 million has been provided between reconstruction support and humanitarian assistance with just over half of this having gone through Irish NGOs. Ireland Aid is working closely with Irish NGOs on the details of further expenditure to be channelled through the NGOs over the coming weeks. It is expected that our overall support for Afghanistan this year will equal, if not exceed, the €5.08 million provided during 2001. The areas of work in which we have funded the Irish NGOs include support for Afghan refugees on the Pakistan border, notably in Peshawar and Quetta. They also include responding to the emergency food, water, shelter and health needs, among others, of those displaced within Afghanistan and those who are now returning to their communities of origin. Irish NGOs are also advancing programmes to assist the processes of national recovery and reconstruction. Geographically, their work extends from Herat in the West to Kabul in the East as well as to the northern and southern provinces.

The work which the Irish NGOs are doing with Government support in Afghanistan has had to adapt to the changing situation on the ground. In these circumstances, we have allowed maximum operational flexibility so that aid can reach those most in need with maximum effect. In addition, Irish NGOs have a close working relationship with the international and other organisations which we also fund in that country. These include the World Food Programme, the UN High Commission for Refugees, UNICEF, the International Red Cross and Crescent and the International Organisation for Migration. As a contributing member state, Ireland also supports the funding of Irish NGOs through the European Community Humanitarian Office. They are also being supported by a variety of other donors including the United States and Britain. The Government will continue to support the work of Irish NGO partners in Afghanistan as a valued part of its ongoing humanitarian commitment to that country.

Question No. 67 answered orally with Question No. 28.

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