Ethiopia

Minister of State Kitt leaves for Ethiopia

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Minister of State with responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance, Mr Tom Kitt TD today left for Ethiopia. The purpose of Minister Kitt's visit is to view directly the extent of the famine gripping the country at this time and to determine how Ireland can continue to optimally respond to the ongoing crisis. Ireland contributed €2.45 million in food aid and emergency drought assistance to Ethiopia in 2002.

The Minister will discuss the food situation at a number of meetings with members of the Government of Ethiopia including the Prime Minister, Minister for Finance, and the Commissioner of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Commission (the Ethiopian agency with responsibility for drought relief).

Minister Kitt is due to meet a wide range of organisations and individuals working to alleviate the food security crisis in Ethiopia through emergency food distribution and other humanitarian assistance. Among these organisations will be Christian Aid, Concern, Goal, Oxfam, Self Help Development International and Trocaire. Minister Kitt will also meet Irish missionaries involved in the emergency effort and long term development. Visits to a number of projects operated by Irish NGOs and funded by Ireland Aid (the official aid programme of the Irish Government) will also take place.

The key UN agency coordinating the relief effort is the World Food Programme and Minister Kitt will discuss the international response with the Country Director Ms Georgina Shaver.

Ethiopia is one of 6 countries in sub-Saharan Africa where Ireland Aid targets long term development assistance with the objective of reducing poverty and building capacity. Minister Kitt will visit Tigray, one of the regions hardest hit by drought and food shortages. Tigray, which is in Northern Ethiopia, is one of the regions where Ireland Aid funds an area based programme designed, inter alia, to address the fundamental problems which lead to recurrent food shortages.

In 2003 it is estimated that long term Irish support for Ethiopia will approach €29 million making Ireland one of the largest donors in Ethiopia.