Ireland’s Minister for International Development Ciarán Cannon T.D., and the Irish Ambassador to the UK Adrian O’Neill last night paid tribute to the work of Concern Worldwide (UK) at an event hosted by the Irish Embassy to celebrate the organisation’s 50th anniversary.
Minister Cannon spoke about the challenges faced in addressing global hunger and conflict, and the role Ireland plays on the international stage.
Speaking about the role of Concern, he said:
“We are here to mark a fiftieth anniversary, that of the foundation of Concern Worldwide. Concern was born in response to the humanitarian need generated by the conflict in Biafra. Many thousands of people have worked with Concern over the past fifty years to make life better for many millions of others. To those who have worked with Concern over that time, thank you.”
Ambassador O’Neill acknowledged Concern’s contribution to overseas humanitarian aid, and paid tribute to the generosity of the people who have helped in its fight against global hunger and poverty over the past 50 years. He said:
“Over the last five decades, Concern has ceaselessly tackled the challenges of poverty and hunger around the world and has fought to expand access to education and medical care for millions of people. We are honoured to host this celebration of Concern’s great work.”
Concern UK’s Executive Director Rose Caldwell, who is from Co. Antrim, thanked the Embassy for hosting the event and also paid tribute to Concern’s donors. She said:
“Last year Concern Worldwide helped 27 million people who were living in extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. Over the last 50 years, our donors and supporters, both members of the public, and also the Irish and British governments, have shown incredible generosity in helping others facing war, famine and disaster. Together we have helped millions of people.”
She added that the work of Concern was needed now more than ever, saying:
“Although in recent decades there has been incredible progress in tackling global hunger and poverty, in the last few years there has been a worrying reverse in trends, with hunger on the rise again.
“Conflict and climate change have led to a huge increase in forced displacement and hunger, and last year alone 135 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance.
“We are incredibly proud of what we have achieved, we will continue to do our best to support the world’s poorest people, to fight to end hunger, and to help people build better lives.”
Mark Lowcock, UN Under Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs, also gave a keynote speech at the event.
The event included a policy debate which was hosted by the BBC’s special correspondent Fergal Keane. Panellists included Matthew Rycroft, Permanent Secretary for the Department of International Development, Sara Pantuliano Managing Director of the ODI, Abraham Bongassie, Country Director Concern Sudan, and Catriona Dowd, Humanitarian Policy Advisor, Concern.
The debate was followed by an evening reception.
Concern has held a number of events this year to mark its 50th anniversary including an event at Stormont in May and ‘Resurge’ an international conference on conflict in Dublin in September, which included speeches by Bill Clinton and the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins.
Founded in 1968 in response to devastating famine in the breakaway state of Biafra, Nigeria, Concern is now one of the largest international aid agencies in the UK and the biggest in Ireland.
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