Minister for Trade and Development, Joe Costello TD, is today attending a high-level meeting of representatives from the African Union, the EU and United Nations in Brussels to press for closer international coordination in response to the crisis in Mali.
Today’s meeting of the Support and Follow-up Group on Mali is also being attended by Mali’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, as well as representatives from neighbouring countries.
Speaking ahead of the meeting this morning, Minister Costello said:
“Good progress has been made in stabilising the security situation in Mali in recent weeks, but now it is vitally important that the provision of humanitarian aid and the political process keep pace. Today’s meeting provides an opportunity to ensure that the international community is effectively coordinating our response to the crisis in Mali.
Ireland will continue to work to ensure that aid agencies and humanitarian workers are granted unhindered access to communities in need.
“We will review the political process in Mali and preparations for elections, which are due to take place before the end of July, in the context of the transition roadmap adopted by the Malian authorities last week. A key focus of today’s discussion will be measures to improve the coordination of all of our efforts to address the long-term economic, environmental and security challenges facing the Sahel region.
“Crucially, we will assess the humanitarian situation in Mali and the Sahel region. Ireland will continue to work to ensure that aid agencies and humanitarian workers are granted unhindered access to communities in need; that aid workers are protected while carrying out this critical work and that all parties guarantee the protection of civilian populations and comply with international humanitarian law and human rights.
“Today’s meeting will assist our deliberations at next week’s meeting of EU Development Ministers in Dublin, at which Mali will be discussed. I look forward to chairing that discussion as part of our Presidency,” Minister Costello said.
- Irish Aid is the Government’s programme of overseas assistance. It is managed by the Development Cooperation Division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
- During 2012 Ireland provided over €9m in assistance to the Sahel region, with €1.35m specifically for the Mali crisis.
- The Support and Follow-up Group was established by the African Union in Mali in March 2012 to facilitate a coordinated international response to the situation in northern Mali.
- The mandate of the group was subsequently expanded by the African Union in response to the crisis arising from the coup d’Etat of 22 March 2012. The Support and Follow up Group has so far held two meetings: in Abidjan, on 7 June 2012, and in Bamako, on 19 October 2012. It is jointly chaired by the African Union, the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).