Ireland can play a central role revitalising Europe's relationship with Africa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs has said.
Simon Coveney highlighted the need for greater political engagement between the EU and Africa as he began a three-day visit to the Horn of Africa region.
On the trip to Kenya and Ethiopia, Mr Coveney will meet regional and national leaders, as well as representatives of Irish companies doing business in Africa and members of the Irish diaspora.
"Ireland has historically maintained a significant footprint in the Horn of Africa region, in particular through our resident embassies in both Ethiopia and Kenya, and in supporting our UN, NGO and missionary organisations on the ground for decades, helping those most in need," he said.
"Ireland provides significant development and humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa region through the Irish Aid programme.
"The region continues to reel from back-to-back seasons of poor and erratic rains and severe drought.
"The devastating effects of climate change, together with conflict, violence, inter-ethnic tensions, and lack of livelihood opportunities for a rapidly growing young population has caused, and is continuing to cause, massive population displacement in the region and rising levels of hunger and malnutrition."
Mr Coveney is due to meet representatives of the United Nations, the African Union and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development to discuss challenges facing the region and current political and security issues.
"It is vital that the EU steps up political engagement with Africa in the coming years, and I believe Ireland can play a central role in revitalising this partnership," he said.
"Closer cooperation is vital if we are to ensure greater prosperity and stability on both continents."