Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 2 August 2014

EU ministers discuss crisis in Mali

Former president Mary Robinson will discuss the crisis in Mali with other European officials

Former president Mary Robinson and Europe's development ministers will on Monday discuss the crisis in the troubled African country Mali.

Spending on overseas aid and efforts to help vulnerable communities at risk of drought and flooding will also be on the agenda at the informal meeting of 27 ministers and three EU Commissioners.

The two-day event, in Dublin Castle, is part of Ireland's Presidency of the EU and will be chaired by junior minister Joe Costello.

He said the provision of humanitarian aid and the political process must keep pace with progress being made in stabilising the security situation in Mali, where a suicide bomber last week attacked a checkpoint.

"We will discuss how best the EU can support Malian authorities and civilians on the road to recovery," said Mr Costello.

The conflict has forced half a million Malians from their homes, with the crisis compounded by drought, hunger and food insecurity across the Sahel region. Some 116 million euro in aid has been pledged by the EU to Mali since the beginning of last year, including 1.35 million euro from Ireland.

Mrs Robinson will attend a reception and working dinner with officials, including the UN Secretary General's special adviser Amina Mohammed. Over the two days officials will also discuss efforts to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities in the Horn of Africa to natural disasters and crises.

More than 2.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of natural disasters since 1983, including 30,000 who died in 302 disasters in 2011 and 200,000 Haitians killed in the 2010 earthquake.

Mr Costello said work is increasingly important as the number and intensity of disasters increases. "Major emergencies have occurred every year over the past decade, from the Darfur conflict which started in 2003 to the Horn of Africa food crisis in 2011," he added.

"As the number of crises increases, the need to plan for them as part of our overall development assistance becomes more critical.This will form an important part of the discussions in Dublin."

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