Gilmore visits war-torn Somalia

Sun, Jul 29, 2012, 01:00

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has visited war-torn Somalia to announce €3 million in life-saving aid.

Thousands of desperate Somalis trying to survive conflict and hunger will be given food, shelter and vital assistance from Irish Aid.

Mr Gilmore’s visit to the country’s capital Mogadishu was the first by an Irish minister in more than two decades.

It coincided with the first anniversary of the United Nations’ declaration of famine when thousands starved to death.

Mr Gilmore said: “Somalia is one of the poorest and most insecure environments in the world. Our ongoing assistance is saving lives every day.”

The funding will help non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including Concern, to scale up vital aid to millions of vulnerable Somalis whose lives are in jeopardy as a result of war and starvation.

It is in addition to almost €30 million in emergency and long-term development funding given through Irish Aid over the past five years.

During his visit, the Tánaiste visited emergency feeding centres as well as a primary school which was destroyed during the civil war but has been rebuilt with Irish Aid support.

He also held a short meeting with Somali prime minister Dr Abdiweli Mohamen Ali.

The Minister said he was committed to supporting organisations that strive to build a better future for their families and their country.

“While progress has been made over the past year since famine was declared, the gains are now at grave risk of being reversed by yet another poor rainy season and a late harvest,” Mr Gilmore continued.

“Those who will be hardest hit over the coming months are the 1.4 million Somalis who have been displaced by drought and conflict.

“They are now balancing on a knife-edge, dependent on a good harvest to keep food prices low and to remain alive.”