Minister Flanagan and MoS McHugh announce airlift of humanitarian supplies into Uganda to help South Sudanese refugees

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan T.D., and Minister of State for the Diaspora and International Development, Joe McHugh T.D., announced that Ireland is dispatching over 100 tonnes of humanitarian supplies to Uganda to help refugees from South Sudan, who have been forced to flee their homes by continuing conflict, violence and acute hunger.

These supplies, including tarpaulins for shelter, blankets, cooking sets, and mosquito nets, will be airlifted into Uganda over the coming days [from Sunday]. They will be donated to the United Nations’ Refugee Agency, UNHCR, for distribution to over 20,000 South Sudanese people who have recently arrived at new refugee settlements in Arua and Lamwo Districts in northern Uganda.

The total cost to Ireland for these airlifts is euro;500,000, and they are being dispatched from UN Humanitarian Depots in Dubai and Accra, where Ireland pre-positions relief supplies for use in humanitarian crises under our Rapid Response Initiative.

Announcing the airlift, Minister Flanagan said:

The South Sudan crisis continues to be one of the most severe large-scale humanitarian crises in the world today. I am deeply concerned by the high levels of population displacement both internally and to neighbouring countries, with one in four people now driven from their homes. It is an immense tragedy that 1.9 million people have been forced to flee South Sudan as refugees since the end of 2013.

Ireland stands firmly with the South Sudanese people, providing significant humanitarian assistance through our Irish Aid programme, totalling euro;46 million since 2012, including euro;11 million last year alone. The airlifts that we are announcing today are the latest in a series of supports provided by Ireland to vulnerable people affected by the South Sudan crisis, and brings to euro;8 million Ireland’s total humanitarian assistance to this crisis so far this year. We are supporting our UN and NGO partners’ life-saving operations targeting the most vulnerable people both in South Sudan and South Sudanese refugees in the region.

The Government of South Sudan, countries in the region and the international community must step up efforts to end the cycle of protracted conflict and violence that is driving displacement in and from South Sudan. Ireland, together with our EU and UN partners, will continue to work for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.rdquo;

Minister McHugh added:

Uganda is now hosting the largest refugee population in Africa, hosting 930,000 South Sudanese refugees, as well as around 300,000 refugees of other nationalities. I saw first-hand the mammoth scale of needs among refugees when I visited Adjumani in northern Uganda last year. Many arrived with only what they could carry. The international community must work harder to meet the immediate and longer term needs of refugees in Uganda and elsewhere, including not only the provision of shelter, protection, food assistance and access to clean water, but also health care, education and livelihood opportunities in their new communities.

Our assistance to this crisis needs to be commensurate with the solidarity shown by the Ugandan and other host Governments in the region whose resources are increasingly overstretched and depleted.Ireland commends the Government of Uganda’s open-door and progressive refugee policy. The Uganda Solidarity Summit on Refugees, which will be co-hosted by Uganda’s President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in Kampala later this month, is an opportunity to mobilise international support to help the Government of Uganda to carry this load.Ireland will continue to do what it can to support the Government of Uganda in our diplomatic relations and through our aid programme.rdquo;

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland.