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Tánaiste discusses global refugee crisis with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

United Nations, Press Releases, Ireland, 2012

The Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore T.D., today discussed the global refugee crisis with Antonio Guterres, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.  Welcoming the High Commissioner to Ireland, the Tánaiste said:

“The international community is now grappling with simultaneous new emergencies in Syria, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The UNHCR is working tirelessly to respond to these new crises, while also protecting the lives of refugees who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of large-scale crises in Afghanistan, Somalia and elsewhere. 

The scale of the current refugee crisis is unprecedented in recent history.  More than 800,000 people have crossed borders in search of refuge so far this year – an average of more than 2,000 refugees every day.

Much of the burden of hosting refugees falls on neighbouring countries. Global solidarity is needed to support those developing countries that host the world’s major refugee populations.  Ireland has a long and honourable tradition of supporting refugees. This year, Ireland has contributed €2.3 million in emergency support for UNHCR’s operations in Syria, Chad, Western Sahara, Sahel, Somalia and Jordan.”

The Tánaiste and Mr Gutterres discussed his recent visit to Somalia and that of the Minister of State, Joe Costello T.D., to Jordan.   The Tánaiste said:

“These visits allowed us to see at first hand the dreadful impact of conflict, war and hunger. And we witnessed the real impact that Irish Aid can have in alleviating that suffering through support to UNHCR and other partners on the ground”.

They also discussed Ireland’s priorities as it takes on the role of EU Presidency in January, including the need for better linkages between humanitarian and longer-term development work in EU development programmes.

The High Commissioner commended Ireland’s commitment to supporting refugees despite the difficult economic circumstances.