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Dublin Hosts EU Discussions on Humanitarian Action

Emergencies, Governance, News/feature, Ireland, Syria, 2013
family photo from COHAFA 2013, Dublin Castle

EU Working Group on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA), hosted in Dublin Castle, 4 - 5 April 2013.

On Thursday and Friday last week, Dublin Castle hosted two days of dynamic discussions of the EU Council’s Working Group on Humanitarian Aid and Food Aid (COHAFA) on improving humanitarian assistance and making it work for one of the world’s most pressing crises - Syria. A variety of participative formats were used to stimulate discussion – including a ‘TV Talk Show’ style debate followed by a live video link with humanitarians on the ground in Damascus.

As part of our EU Presidency, Irish Aid has been working to deepen understanding of current emergencies and foster constructive debate around critical issues in humanitarian action. We used the Dublin Castle meeting as an opportunity to bring together key decision makers from Brussels and humanitarian specialists to find better ways of building the resilience of the poor and vulnerable, fulfilling humanitarian principles in conflict and fragile contexts, and interacting with military actors during disaster.

The panel discussion on the Syria crisis was enriched by the participation of senior representatives from UN OCHA (including Irishman John Ging), the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Crisis Group and Médecins Sans Frontières. The video-conference with the UN Humanitarian Coordinator and the Head of the ICRC in Damascus allowed a real time account of the state of affairs for Syria’s beleaguered population.

Now half way through our Presidency, Irish Aid continues its efforts to help improve coordination amongst humanitarian actors, promote better linkages between humanitarian relief, recovery and longer-term development and to champion the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. The Dublin COHAFA meeting was a significant contribution towards these important aims.