President Higgins: We have duty to end poverty and violence

President Michael D Higgins has urged the country to call for policies that will bring an end to “poverty and violence” worldwide just a day after the picture of a war-ravaged five-year-old Syrian boy caused condemnation across the globe.

In a statement to mark World Humanitarian Day yesterday, Mr Higgins said Ireland’s citizens and politicians have a responsibility to highlight the need for “international co-operation” in tackling a series of worldwide issues.

The President said it is right that the United Nations has given an entire day to honour aid workers who are based in a string of war-torn countries, and to remember the 2003 bombing of 22 UN aid workers in the Iraqi capital Baghdad.

However, while not mentioning the Syrian crisis specifically or the picture of five-year-old Omran Daqneesh who was rescued from rubble after an air-strike, Mr Higgins re-iterated his view that growing humanitarian crises around the world cannot be ignored.

“World Humanitarian Day is commemorated across the globe each year, to pay tribute to aid workers who have died or have been injured in the course of their work and to celebrate our common commitment to the values of humanity.

“As we honour those who work to pick up the pieces in a broken world by seeking to prevent and respond to human suffering, we are called upon to inspire each other to help create a more humane world.

“World Humanitarian Day is an opportunity to show our solidarity with the more than 130 million people around the world who need humanitarian assistance to survive.

“We can take pride in Ireland’s strong track record of support to the victims of conflict and natural disasters. And we can encourage each other to take actions — and to call for policies — that help bring an end to poverty and violence,” he said.

Mr Higgins is widely expected to raise the plight of people living amid the ongoing Syrian civil war in media interviews after a speech at the annual Béal na mBláth commemorations in West Cork tomorrow.

In recent months, he has also raised the matter and the related issue of the Mediterranean migrant crisis on a number of occasions, including at the May 2016 World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, Turkey.

Meanwhile, President Higgins is due to make history tomorrow when he becomes the first sitting president to deliver the oration at the annual Micheal Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth in Cork.

Afterward the commemoration, which is due to start at 3pm, Mr Higgins will open a museum in nearby Kilmurray dedicated to the War of Independence and Civil War fighting.


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