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MOS Costello concern increase in refugee numbers worldwide

Emergencies, News/feature, Global, 2012

The Minister for Trade and Development Joe Costello TD today expressed concern at the increasing numbers of refugees displaced across the world.

Speaking ahead of World Refugee Day tomorrow, Minister Costello described the findings of a new report UN High Commissioners for Refugees’ (UNHCR) as worrying, but said Ireland remains committed to supporting refugees who are some of the world’s most vulnerable people.  The UN report, released yesterday, revealed that more people became refugees last year than at any time since 2000.

In recent years, we know the plight of refugees forced to flee their homes has been exacerbated by climate change, natural disasters and food scarcity. According to the UNHCR, in 2011 alone 4.3 million people were newly displaced, with a full 800,000 of these fleeing their countries and becoming refugees. These figures serve as an important reminder that we must continue to strengthen our support for displaced people around the world.

“Ireland has a strong history of providing support to refugees. Working in partnership with UNHCR, other UN agencies and our NGO partners, Irish Aid has provided assistance to long standing and often forgotten refugee crises such as in Western Sahara, the Horn of Africa and the Thai/ Burmese border.

“More recently we have been working with partner organisations in emerging crisis regions of the world, including South Sudan, Syria and Mali. The support we provide offers displaced people life sustaining assistance to help them in the task of rebuilding their lives.

Working through partner organisations, Irish Aid has supported more than 130,000 refugees in South Sudan who reside in camps along a disputed border with Sudan. In Syria, Ireland’s response to the deteriorating situation there includes support through the UNHCR for the tens of thousands forced to leave their homes, either to locations within the country or to neighbouring countries.  

Earlier this month, Minister Costello travelled to Ghana where he witnessed the dispatch of an Irish Aid shipment of emergency supplies to help thousands of vulnerable Malian refugees in West Africa.

“The essential supplies dispatched, including tents and water and sanitation equipment, are now being used by Malian refugees who were forced to cross the border into Burkino Faso. The complex refugee crisis in Mali, brought about by a combination of conflict, environmental fragility and food scarcity, has seen more than 160,000 refugees fleeing their homes.

“Since the beginning of the year, I have authorised more than €9 million in funding to assist in humanitarian relief efforts in the Sahel region. Our support for Mali Refugees is another example of how Ireland moves quickly to respond to the needs of displaced people during international emergencies.”

Press Office

19 June 2012


For further information on Irish Aid visit www.irishaid.ie or contact Fionnuala Quinlan, Press Officer, Irish Aid, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on 087-9099975. 

Note for Editors:

  • Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • The ‘Global Trends 2011” report is the UNHCR’s main annual report on the state of forced displacement. This year’s report details for the first time the extent of forced displacement from a string of major humanitarian crises that began in late 2010 in Côte d'Ivoire, and was quickly followed by others in Libya, Somalia, Sudan and elsewhere.
  • Viewed on a 10-year basis, the report shows several worrying trends including the point that forced displacement is affecting larger numbers of people globally, with the annual level exceeding 42 million people for each of the last five years.
  • In the Western Sahara, a ‘forgotten refugee crisis’, Irish Aid has supported UNHCR to provide water and sanitation, health, nutrition and education to the 165,000 refugees. In Dadaab refugee camp in northern Kenya - a camp built to house 90,000 refugees, but now housing nearly half a million refugees - support has been provided to establish safety and security in the camp, especially for the women and girls who are most at risk.