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Statement by President Michael D. Higgins on the drought in East Africa

Date: Wed 12th Jul, 2017 | 16:43

12 July 2017

President Michael D. Higgins today paid tribute to the decision by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference to organise special collections at churches across Ireland, to raise funds for people affected by the famine in East-Africa.  

He called on all Irish citizens and organisations to take this call as an example and to respond with their traditional generosity.

“As President of Ireland may I commend all such efforts to provide assistance to the people across the countries of East Africa, who are suffering the effects of a devastating drought. 

Three years of drought have created what the United Nations have called the greatest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War, with over 24 million people facing malnutrition and starvation.

The effects of El Niño and the growing impact of climate change have produced an unparalleled period of drought, devastating crops and livelihoods and forcing thousands of people to leave their homes. The drought is destroying communities and fuelling conflicts, resulting in growing refugee movements in an already fragile region.

We are reminded of the significance of us making an effort, at State and citizen level, to ensure that the statements on Climate Change agreed in Paris and on Sustainable Development agreed in New York in 2015, are turned into implementable policies and actions.

This crisis, however, requires an immediate response. 

Irish Aid and the Irish NGOs and missionary organisations are already providing highly effective assistance to millions of people across the region. But a response at greater scale is required. 

We urgently need a renewed global effort to help prevent the deaths of millions of poor and marginalised people – including a call on the international community to honour its obligations to finance international aid efforts and climate change adaptation. 

In addition, we need to address the gross inequalities that underpin people’s vulnerabilities to climate change, and to review those policies and practices that have allowed and enabled conflicts in this region to continue for far too long. 

Our shared humanity demands no less.”

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President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins has spoken about the importance of combating famine and poverty on a number of occasions, most notably in these speeches: