The Government has announced an additional €5m in aid for people affected by the wars in Syria and Yemen.

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan said recent attacks on hospitals and medical facilities were appalling and he condemned the blocking of convoys of medicines, food, and baby food.

Some €2m of the €3m destined for Syria is going to groups working inside the country — €1m is going to the International Committee of the Red Cross, €1m to the United Nation’s Turkey Humanitarian Pooled Fund which delivers aid into northern Syria, and another €1m to Unicef.

Another €2m is going to the UN’s Yemen Humanitarian Pooled Fund, which makes use of local knowledge to ensure that front-line organisations are given the means to reach those in need.

Mr Flanagan said civilians in Syria are in dire straits.

“Life inside Syria has become almost impossible, and 13.5m people there are in need of humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Mr Flanagan called on armies involved in the war in Syria to allow sustained humanitarian access to the country. “I condemn the cowardly attacks on hospitals and medical facilities, and I am appalled that convoys of medicines, food supplies, and even baby food have been prevented from reaching their destinations,” he said.

The funding is part of Ireland’s commitment to pay €20m in humanitarian support for the Syrian people this year, and €62m since the war began more than five years ago.

Meanwhile, a child refugee who lost her parents in the Syrian conflict smiled for the first time after meeting a group of Irish circus artists.

Clowns Without Borders have just returned from a tour of the refugee camps of Jordan.

Amid harrowing scenes of deprivation and bereavement, the volunteers hit the funny bones of children whose lives had been devastated, organisation founder Colm O’Grady said.

“We have a track record in doing incredible work where we have a child who has not smiled for six months, who has seen their parents killed and they are there laughing.”

One camp inhabitant, a boy aged 17, even accompanied the troupe in Jordan as a juggler.

The group of around 50 performers from Ireland visited settlements including Zaatari, Jordan’s largest refugee camp.


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