Written Answers - Overseas Development Aid.

Thursday, 29 June 2006

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 622 No. 31

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  18.  Mr. P. Breen  Information on Pat Breen  Zoom on Pat Breen   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   the number of projects currently funded by Irish Aid in Africa specifically directed towards combating HIV and AIDS; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25116/06]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  HIV/AIDS presents an enormous challenge to developing countries, especially in Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa is by far the worst-affected region in the world. AIDS is now the leading cause of death in this region. Over 3 million new infections occurred there in 2005, while the disease claimed the lives of over 2 million adults and children in the same year. Women and girls make up almost 57% of those living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa and 11 million children in this region have lost one or both parents to AIDS.

We are totally committed to fighting HIV/AIDS and see our efforts as fundamental to poverty and vulnerability reduction. Between 2001 and the end of this year, we will have expended over €250 million on HIV/AIDS related programmes. Most of these resources are directed at the most affected countries, primarily in sub-Saharan Africa.

[1649]Ireland has Embassies and significant aid programmes in Ethiopia, Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. All these countries are hugely affected by HIV/AIDS and are struggling to control the spread and impact of the pandemic on their socio-economic bases.

Engagement and funding at country level supports a range of projects and programmes implemented by Governments and civil society organisations. These projects and programmes cover interventions that strengthen local institutional capacity to deal with HIV/AIDS; support the planning and delivery of essential HIV prevention, treatment and care services; provide basic needs for children orphaned by AIDS; support organisations and networks of people living with HIV; upgrade health care facilities and train health workers in HIV drug administration and management.

In Mozambique, we are working closely with the Government and the Clinton Foundation in the provision of HIV treatment services. Ireland has contributed to Mozambique’s achievement in reaching and in some cases exceeding its HIV related service targets. In Lesotho, we also hope to build a partnership with the Government and the Clinton Foundation to address the HIV/AIDS crisis in that country.

As well as working directly at country level, Ireland also supports international efforts to address HIV/AIDS and its impact. The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria is one such example. By the end of 2006, Ireland will have contributed €60 million to this Fund.

Irish Aid recently produced a report on its response and commitment to HIV/AIDS over the period 2001-2006. The Taoiseach presented this report to the United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, when he met him during the High Level Review on HIV/AIDS held in New York at the end of May. In his address to the UN High Level Review, the Taoiseach pledged that we will spend €100 million per annum on addressing HIV/AIDS and other diseases of poverty.

We will continue to work with Government and civil society partners to ensure a coordinated, accelerated and more focused response to HIV/AIDS which prioritises prevention, particularly among young men and women.

  19.  Mr. Crawford  Information on Seymour Crawford  Zoom on Seymour Crawford   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   the level of aid being directed to the Middle East by the Government in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25115/06]

  60.  Mr. J. O’Keeffe  Information on Jim O'Keeffe  Zoom on Jim O'Keeffe   asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs  Information on Dermot Ahern  Zoom on Dermot Ahern   the level of humanitarian aid allocated to the Palestinian Authority in 2005; the level of aid allocated in 2006; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25120/06]

Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (Mr. C. Lenihan): Information on Conor Lenihan  Zoom on Conor Lenihan  I propose to take Questions Nos. 19 and 60 together.

Ireland has strongly supported the provision of humanitarian and development assistance to the Palestinian people. The core objective of Ireland’s assistance in Palestine has been to alleviate the material consequences of the ongoing conflict by enhancing the capacity of Ireland’s partners in Palestine to respond to the crisis and to begin, where possible, to meet the future development needs of the Palestinian people.

In 2005, Ireland delivered in excess of €4 million in humanitarian and development assistance to Palestine. Humanitarian assistance has been channelled through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which remains our key partner in the provision of basic services to the Palestinian people. In response to UNRWA’s appeal for funding, Ireland provided early funding of €1.5 million to UNRWA in 2006. This was un-earmarked core funding which allows UNRWA to respond flexibly to the emerging challenges. Ireland will continue to respond to changing humanitarian needs in Palestine.

Our development funding has been focused on support for basic education, strengthening local government through local rural development programmes, and support for key United Nations’ agencies.

We also provide significant support for civil society organisations in Palestine which work to promote human rights and democratisation and to facilitate community rehabilitation.

The Government is extremely conscious of the need to continue assistance to Palestine in the current difficult political climate. Ireland’s programme of assistance in 2006 will include continued support for partner UN Agencies, NGOs and Bethlehem University. We have made clear that we are determined to maintain the overall volume of our assistance to Palestine.

We do not believe that the Palestinian people should face the risk of a humanitarian crisis because of the reluctance of their new Government to respect the peace process. However, there is agreement among all the Member States that the EU cannot maintain its capacity-building support for the Hamas Government under the Oslo process, given that the Government has not committed to the conditions set out by the Quartet and the EU.

This month, the European Council agreed that, as a matter of priority, a Temporary International Mechanism (TIM) should be established to provide for basic needs, including health services. Ireland has been to the fore in the EU in arguing for the widest possible definition of the basic needs to be covered.

I can assure the Deputy that Ireland will, both nationally and in the multilateral framework, do [1651]all that is within our capacity to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people and to pursue our development interventions to the extent possible, while being cognisant of the wider political realities.

The Government is also committed to the provision of humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people. Since 2003, Ireland has delivered over €7 million to meet the immediate emergency humanitarian needs of some of the most vulnerable groups in that country. Funding has been delivered through key non-governmental partners such as Concern, Goal and Trócaire and through UN and international agencies such as the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and the Red Cross family. This year I have allocated €0.5 million to the Mines Advisory Group, a partner organisation to Trócaire, for mines clearance activities in northern Iraq. Funding will also be provided this year to support the provision of health services to the Marsh Arab population in Southern Iraq.

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