Irish Aid
Located in East Africa, the Horn of Africa consists of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia. The area is experiencing an unprecedented drought, “following four consecutive failed rainy seasons in parts of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years.”

Because of this unprecedented drought, many have come to the aid of the area including government agencies, nonprofits and other agencies with local presence in the area. One of these contributors is Irish Aid, Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs, which provided an additional €30 million to the area in November 2022, bringing its total contributions to the Horn of Africa in 2022 to more than $100 million.

Damages and Lasting Consequences

The drought affected more than 36 million people within the area with 23 million of these people facing food insecurity. This food insecurity has come from the loss of livestock lives with almost 10 million livestock dead because of the drought. Kenya’s government translated this into an economic loss of more than $1.5 billion. It will take farmers within the area years to rebuild due to the severity and duration of the drought. “A recent IOM assessment in Garissa county, Kenya, found that over 72,600 pastoralist households had lost their capital and livelihood opportunity,” OCHA reports.

More than 5.7 million children under 5 are experiencing acute malnutrition while about 1.3 million are experiencing severe acute malnutrition. Related to this, more than 1.2 million nursing and pregnant women experience malnourishment, with the highest affected population living in Ethiopia.

The Allocation of Irish Aid’s Funds

With Irish Aid sending these additional funds to the Horn of Africa, here is an insight into the allocation of the funds in the most effective way:

  • Irish Aid will deliver more than half of the funds to the worst affected areas. UNOCHA will put these funds into place in Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, UNICEF in Kenya and Ireland’s own embassy in Ethiopia with the assistance of local partners.
  • The program will contribute €5 million of the funds to the U.N.’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) in the area.
  • Multiple Irish NGO partners will receive €5 million to provide life-saving care, monetary relief and sanitation and replenish food supplies.

Irish Aid in the Horn of Africa

These additional funds bring the total for Irish Aid’s contribution to the Horn of Africa up to more than €100 million just within 2022. With the announcement of additional funding, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Simon Coveney stated on the matter: “The Horn of Africa is on the brink of disaster. The prospect of starvation and famine across swathes of the Horn is imminent. The combined effects of drought, conflict, ongoing political struggle and the global impact of the war in Ukraine have been devastating. Ireland is stepping up our support to respond immediately,” the Department of Foreign Affairs reported on its website.

Economic aid from Irish Aid and many others is vital to lessen the humanitarian crisis within the area. These contributions can drastically reverse the effects and help the countries in the area rebuild.

– Sean McMullen
Photo: Flickr

from-the-troubles-to-recession-to-rapid-growth-irelands-poverty-reductionIreland’s poverty reduction has been impressive, coming from the times of the political and religious troubles of 30 years ago. In 1987, at a poverty line of $5.50 a day, poverty in Ireland was at 3.7%, but in the 21st century, the poverty rate has never been above 1.5%. However, as with the U.S., the recession of 2008 greatly affected the Irish economy. Following the recession, the consistent poverty rate was still 2.5% higher in 2017 than it was in 2008. At the national poverty line, the World Bank suggested the poverty level was at 13.9% in 2019. To make matters worse, 25% of those living in poverty currently are children.

GDP

In 2021 Ireland’s GDP per capita growth rate was 16%. This measurement can be misleading. Despite Ireland having one of the highest GDP per capita in the world, it still faces the issue of poverty. The GDP per capita figure is distorted due to over 1,500 multinational corps being located here and the small population size. As GDP per capita is a measurement of average income across a whole population, extremely rich individuals or companies and small populations can easily distort it.

Despite this, the presence of these large pharmaceuticals and tech firms also have some benefits for Ireland. For example, Apple provides 6,000 jobs in Ireland alone. This proves to be a major contributor to the economy, which in turn provides the government with more funding.

The Irish government reinvests this back into public services. For example, during the pandemic homelessness decreased, dropping below 9,000 for the first time since 2017. On top of this, it is estimated that without Ireland’s welfare system a huge four in every ten of the population would be in poverty. If the country reduces child poverty, this could continue at an even greater rate, as Social Justice Ireland advocates for.

Impact of the Recession

The recession hit Ireland in 2008, resulting in a housing market crash similar to the U.S. This was followed by an economic depression in Ireland in 2009- with GNP decreasing by 12% in the first quarter of that year. The housing crisis also affected many other industries as the population lost confidence in the economy. Unemployment increased by almost 8% between 2008 and 2012.

However, Ireland appears to be crawling out of this “lost decade” of economic turmoil with reduced unemployment, homelessness and high levels of growth. But there are still lasting effects of poverty that Ireland still hasn’t addressed.

Social Justice Ireland outlines the serious problem of in-work poverty in Ireland. In-work poverty was at 6.2% in 2020 and has not shown any signs of decreasing over recent years. COVID-19 appears to have affected these lowest earners as well- with income tax receipts only decreasing by 1% in 2020. Social Justice Ireland believes the country needs to do more in achieving governmental targets, implement more policies to support the ‘working poor’ and provide more support for the poor such as greater enforcement of a wide living wage.

Focus Ireland

Focus Ireland is a prime example of the foundations that helped to foster Ireland’s development post-recession. The organization supports homeless people in Ireland. In 2020, it successfully helped 1,829 households stay out of homelessness or helped them to move to a secure home. Projects like this are helping to contribute to Ireland’s reducing level of homelessness.

Ireland’s poverty reduction is succeeding as it stands, but more help needs to be provided for a large number of working poor and children in poverty.

Reuben Cochrane
Photo: Flickr

Energy Poverty in IrelandAccording to The Irish Times, energy poverty is “spending more than a tenth of [ones] income on energy.” In Ireland, 29% of households, up from 13% in 2015, meet this “threshold for energy poverty.” This widespread energy poverty in Ireland has resulted from the sudden surges in gas and electricity prices which are partially due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The Problem

On average, Irish households are spending €21 more weekly on energy instead of other essential goods. To make matters worse, if motor fuels are included, families are spending €38 more weekly than before the recent inflation, according to The Irish Times.

According to research by the Irish Houses of the Oireachtas, “it is well established that certain groups are more vulnerable to energy poverty and its consequences.” Research by the House discussed that not only do poorer households have limited capacity to support their energy needs due to economic restraints, but they also frequently have increased energy costs. Many of the poorer households in Ireland live in less energy-efficient accommodation, such as mobile homes and trailers, which leads to higher energy costs.

The groups suffering from increased energy costs the most are the Irish Traveller and Roma communities residing in Ireland. These communities frequently face “financial exclusion” and energy-inefficient accommodation. In fact, 40% of Travellers and Romas in Ireland significantly struggle to make ends meet, and 13% live in accommodations in bad condition. “These factors result in significant health and safety risks for Traveller families,” says research by the House.

Specifically, energy poverty affects individuals’ health, social inclusion and housing tenure. Additionally, homes often use cheaper alternatives, such as coal, to meet their energy needs, which has serious effects on air quality and climate change. Thus, it is in everyone’s best interest to reduce energy poverty and ensure all households can safely meet their energy needs.

Possible Solutions

Social Justice Ireland, a think tank and justice advocacy organization, stated that, in theory, the solution to both the financial and environmental costs is as simple as making homes more energy-efficient. This would reduce the carbon emission of individual homes and require less fuel, in return reducing cost. In order to do so, the organization suggests a “state-led retrofitting scheme” to improve the condition of poorer quality homes.

In research by the House, it endorsed the need for grants and programs in order to retrofit homes. However, it also suggested the need for “income supports in the form of transfer payments” and subsidizing energy in order to prevent more homes from falling below the threshold for energy poverty.

National Efforts

Currently, the Irish government aims to alleviate the effects of spiking energy prices by cutting indirect taxes on fuel, such as the carbon tax. However, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) has criticized the government’s efforts, as “most of the aggregate gains would go to the highest-income 40% of households while less than a third would go to the lowest-income 40%,” The Irish Times reports. Alternatively, the think tank suggested income supports, such as welfare payments, similar to the recommendation by the Irish Houses of the Oireachtas.

Unfortunately, according to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar, “the Government might already be at the limit” of what it can do, due to the constantly rising levels of energy poverty in Ireland.

Local Actions and NGO Efforts

Considering the government’s limited ability to act, local and NGO actions are even more valuable in alleviating and preventing energy poverty than usual.

Locally, according to a report by the European Commission, the Deep Retrofit Transforms Wexford Sheltered Housing project has helped retrofit 12 one-bedroom homes, including social housing, in Wexford, Ireland. The projects will not only have serious economic and environmental benefits but will also benefit the homeowners’ health and wellbeing.

Furthermore, Energy Action, established in 1988, fights to address energy, specifically fuel poverty in Dublin, Ireland. The NGO, which was “Ireland’s first community-based energy project,” provides free insulation in the homes of the disadvantaged, such as the elderly and poor. Since its founding, Energy Action has insulated 35,000 homes. The remarkable NGO has also helped tackle poverty in Ireland by employing and training the formerly long-time unemployed, “providing them with sustainable and ecologically sound employment opportunities.”

Although Ireland lacks a national program to tackle energy poverty, Energy Action supports multiple “community-based organizations ” fighting energy poverty throughout the country to get started with their own projects.

– Lena Maassen
Photo: Flickr

Ireland's Housing Crisis
Ireland is suffering from the “longest and most severe” housing crisis the country has ever experienced according to Macdara Doyle, an advocate for housing reform in Ireland. Ireland’s housing crisis has pushed millions of people out of their homes and into poverty with seemingly no end. Irish housing prices and evictions are through the roof, but Raise the Roof, Doyle’s non-governmental organization is pressuring the government to energize its campaign to combat this crisis.

What Caused Ireland’s Housing Crisis?

Ireland’s housing crisis has been in the making since the late 2000s when the international housing bubble burst. Due to the burst in Ireland, it became evident that there was a growing lack of suitable and affordable rental living spaces.

The housing market has been unable to keep pace with Ireland’s population growth and urban concentration. There are rough estimates that to keep pace with the population growth and job density in cities, particularly in Dublin, there must be 45,000 new houses built a year. Unfortunately, the average annual number since 2015 has been 15,000. The cost of building materials has remained high since the early 2000s. Worse, the housing bubble exacerbated the costs for housing materials and has made it almost impossible to build houses at all, much less any new affordable housing.

After the housing bubble burst, Ireland’s government faced countless economic problems that left the government scrambling to support its recently unemployed and/or homeless population. Therefore, the Irish government took out loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Union (EU). The funds went to support the workers who lost their jobs in the 2008 recession. Unfortunately, not much went towards the housing crisis itself. It has now returned to haunt the country as both prices and poverty rates skyrocket.

How is Ireland’s Housing Crisis Impacting Poverty?

Ireland’s housing crisis has already forced thousands of citizens into poverty and is putting even more at risk of falling into poverty. As of May 2022, just about 20% of Ireland’s population live below the poverty line, and 41.6% of Irish renters risk falling into poverty. That is 952,185 people, just short of a million Irish citizens. Perhaps the most disturbing data point is the 59.1% poverty rate of Irish on rental subsidies after they pay their rent.

The housing subsidies program most widely used in Ireland is the Housing Assistance Payment (HAP). About 20% of private renters receive HAP subsidies. However, a 2022 “Housing Costs and Poverty 2022” report suggests that HAP subsidies are insufficient. It determined that instead of subsidizing the private rental sector, HAP should support the building of social homes. As it states, “It is essential that Government increase spending on actually building social homes instead of relying on and subsidising a dysfunctional private rented sector.”

What is Happening to Fix the Housing Crisis?

Local non-government organizations (NGOs) and the Irish government are putting some small movements and policies in place to end Ireland’s housing crisis. Understandably, these efforts have the public’s growing support. One solution with incredible support is a policy plan that Ireland’s government outlined, and the second is from an NGO: Raise the Roof.

Ireland’s government recently proposed that one of the best ways to raise funds to combat the housing crisis is to change the taxes on the currently empty housing properties with a vacant property tax. The tax will incentivize people to use vacant properties and provide more affordable housing. The Geodirectory database estimates more than 112,000 decrepit or vacant dwellings in the last quarter of 2021.

Raise the Roof advocates that the government doubles its investment to fight the housing crisis. It supports the idea of a vacant property tax. It also suggests introducing a rent freeze. Raise the Roof is generating pressure with almost non-stop public meetings to discuss the issues blocking the Irish government’s ability to end its decade-long housing crisis. Numerous unions and community organizations support the Raise the Roof platform.

Hopefully, Raise the Roof will spur the Iris government’s new sense of urgency to combat Ireland’s housing crisis.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Impact of COVID-19 on Poverty in Ireland
With more than 2 million deaths as of the most recent reports and a ravaged economy, COVID-19 has hit Europe as hard as any other territory in the world. Despite this, the nation of Ireland has consistently and effectively managed both the spread of the virus, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Ireland. Through practices of anticipation, periods of adjustment, transparency with its people and acts of initiative; Ireland has maintained one of the lowest COVID-19 excess death rates in the world and an economy steadily on the rebound.

Anticipation

In January 2020, in response to the rising threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ireland formed National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET). Dr. Tony Holohan, the state’s Chief Medical Officer, was the head of this group of 30 the finest medical, health and science professionals.

To assist citizens in supplementing lost income and limit the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Ireland, the Irish government introduced a Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS). Through the TWSS, workers could receive financial support through their specific employer, as well as apply and receive their Pandemic Unemployment Payment. The TWSS also offered employers and new firms a rate subsidy based per week, that varied depending on the company’s number of employees on the payroll.

Adjustments

On February 29, 2020, COVID-19 struck the Emerald Isle for the first time. A month later, on March 27, 2020, Ireland would enter its first nationwide lockdown– this would last through mid-May.

During the initial surge, in which more than 13,000 citizens were hospitalized, the Irish government reached an agreement with the hospital network. In this agreement, the government would access private hospitals to use their capacity for three months, essentially alleviating the pressure on the public system and opening up more space for patients.

On September 1, 2020, the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) replaced the TWSS. The replacement scheme was an economy-wide enterprise to support eligible businesses in finding eligible employees while focussing primarily on business eligibility. In addition to this, the EWSS also provided a flat rate subsidy to qualifying employers, similar to its predecessor the TWSS. While the TWSS and the EWSS are very similar, the EWSS was a more progressive and long-term solution to limit the impact of COVID-19 on poverty in Ireland.

Without these forms of financial assistance, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) estimates that the number of employed Irish citizens at risk of poverty would have skyrocketed from 6.7% to as high as 15.1%.

Initiative

During countrywide lockdowns, the government, with assistance from the NPHET, implemented numerous restrictions. These restrictions included travel restrictions, in which people could not travel for non-essential purposes. The restrictions also included social gatherings, allowing them indoors, with only immediate household members.

To assist the nation’s economic recovery, the government unveiled the Economic Recovery Plan. The plan outlines the commitment of €3 billion to assist both citizens seeking employment and businesses suffering from the lasting impacts of the pandemic. However, the recovery plan’s desired intention is to create as many jobs as possible, with projections to exceed pre-pandemic employment levels by as early as 2024.

Transparency

Starting on March 23, 2020, the NPHET would use traditional and social media and give citizens daily announcements and briefings on information regarding COVID-19, according to a study published in Elsevier Public Health Emergency Collection. During these announcements, the government would also emphasize which restrictions should be emphasized and which if any should be lax.

One of the primary things the Irish government was applauded for, was its transparency regarding the economic effects of COVID-19. While Social Justice Ireland acknowledges the fact that without the government’s assistance “almost four in every 10 of the Irish population would have been living in poverty.” Employees such as Susanne Rogers acknowledge the fact that the fight is not over, especially for the large number of children that are still living in poverty.

Susanne, along with many other experts, feels that this has a serious impact on the children’s education, and the future of Ireland’s economic potential in the long term. To help assist the nation of Ireland and its youth in their continued fight, you can donate to organizations such as the National Youth Council of Ireland, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and Barnardos. Each organization has a charitable set up to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on Ireland.

– Austin Hughes
Photo: Unsplash

Human Trafficking in Ireland
Human trafficking in Ireland is higher than the official statistics report. In fact, Ireland stands as a Tier 2 Watch List country for a second year in relation to efforts to eliminate human trafficking, according to the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. Department of State compiles annual Trafficking in Persons Reports that rank governments in their efforts to end human trafficking.

The Tier 2 Watchlist country ranking means the government is not meeting the minimum standards of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (TVPA) but is actively working to meet those standards. The TVPA establishes “methods of prosecuting traffickers, preventing human trafficking and protecting victims and survivors of trafficking.”

Why is Ireland a Tier 2 Watch List Country?

The Ireland government has made many efforts to align with the TVPA, such as “designating an independent human trafficking national rapporteur and establishing a formal national anti-trafficking forum” and starting a “national anti-trafficking public awareness campaign.” The Irish government has also extended monetary support for victim assistance, awareness efforts and anti-trafficking training.

Despite these efforts, Ireland did not demonstrate an overall increase in growth from the previous 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP). The government continued to struggle with victim identification and assistance and lacked support services for victims. The 2021 TIP Report specifies that the Irish government “investigated and prosecuted fewer suspected traffickers, did not prosecute any labor traffickers and victim identification decreased for the fourth year in a row.”

Ireland’s Response to the 2021 TIP Report

“While there have been some positive efforts, including the appointment of the Commission as rapporteur, and in recent weeks, the first trafficking conviction since 2013, the reality today is that Ireland continues to fall below minimum standards compared to other developed nations,” Chief Commissioner of the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Sinéad Gibney said in July 2021.

“It was very disappointing that the U.S. State Department did not acknowledge the significant progress made by Ireland over the past 12 months as sufficient to upgrade our ranking in the latest Trafficking in Persons Report, I am confident that the work we are doing should be reflected in the next TIP Report and that Ireland’s ranking should be upgraded accordingly,” Minister of State at the Department of Justice Hildegarde Naughton said in a September 2021 parliamentary discussion.

Is Human Trafficking in Ireland Improving?

From 2017 to 2019, Ireland detected 181 trafficking victims, while from 2019 to 2021, Ireland detected 124 victims, which equals about a 30% decrease. This decrease may link to the global COVID-19 travel restrictions.

The 2021 TIP Report said that authorities identified 38 victims in 2020, the lowest number of identified victims since 2013.

Overall, human trafficking in Ireland is reducing according to the numbers, but the 2021 TIP Report says that there are even more victims than official statistics say and does not provide conclusive insight as to why. The 2021 TIP Report stated that an “independent and comprehensive 2021 study found that from 2014-2019, the true number of trafficking victims was approximately 38[%] higher than the official national statistics.”

The 2021 TIP Report does indicate that traffickers traffic victims from other regions such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and South America, and recently, countries including Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Romania.

Organizations Working to End Human Trafficking in Ireland

Ruhama is an Irish non-governmental organization that emerged in 1989 to provide “support to women impacted by prostitution, sex trafficking and other forms of commercial sexual exploitation.” Ruhama offers free services that differ depending on each woman’s circumstances and experiences, including a care plan, counseling and therapy, education and development programs, legal support, housing support, health and wellness support and more. In 2021, Ruhama helped 369 women, with 136 women victims of sex trafficking.

Doras is an anti-trafficking organization that has been helping those affected by human trafficking in Mid-West Ireland since 2011. Its priorities in anti-trafficking advocacy include rehabilitation programs for victims, improved identification and assisting of victims, “increased penalties and custodial sentences” for those benefiting from prostitution, “safe and appropriate gender-specific accommodation” for survivors and more.

As of now, the total victim count for human trafficking in Ireland is decreasing and the government and other organizations are continuing to accelerate efforts to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking in Ireland, prevent it and educate on it, while helping survivors, and identifying victims and accurately reporting information.

– Dylan Olive
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19’s Impact on Ireland
After introducing one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, Ireland ranked first on Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking in September 2021. According to the Financial Post, “Bloomberg’s Covid Resilience Ranking scores the largest 53 economies on their success at containing the virus with the least amount of social and economic disruption.” Ireland’s high vaccination rates and economic plans likely contribute to it securing the first-place ranking. By September 10, 2021, 90% of Ireland’s adult population was fully vaccinated. However, as Ireland slowly eases its restrictions, there are concerns that COVID-19’s impact on Ireland may be lasting.

COVID-19’s Far-Reaching Impact

By November 27, 2021, Ireland reported more than 556,000 COVID-19 cases and 5,652 deaths. However, the death toll is not the only measurement of COVID-19’s impact on Ireland. As the government attempts to combat the pandemic, there is evidence that COVID-19 also impacts Ireland in several other ways:

  1. High unemployment rates plague Ireland. In 2020, the unemployment rate in Ireland reached an all-time high of 31.5%. However, despite COVID-19’s impact on Ireland last year, unemployment has dropped to 7.9% in October 2021. Ireland’s Finance Ministry estimates that the rate will reduce further to 7.2% in 2022.
  2. COVID-19 harshly impacts certain industries. Across the world, the tourism and hospitality sectors faced the most severe impacts of COVID-19. Border closures, travel restrictions and limitations on gatherings significantly impact these sectors. According to the Northern Ireland Hotel Federation, in April 2020, about 90% of hotel staff in Northern Ireland were “furloughed or laid off.”
  3. COVID-19 impacts education in Ireland. In September 2021, Irish schools noted a high absence of school children due to an uptick in COVID-19 cases. In the second week of September alone, 12,000 children in Ireland missed school because of close contact with COVID-19 positive individuals. One official describes the school system as “overwhelmed,” prompting the Northern Ireland Assembly to schedule an urgent meeting to address the situation.
  4. Ireland’s health care system is under pressure. A sudden surge in COVID-19 cases has led to absent health care workers. In October 2021, approximately 2,700 infected health workers did not attend work due to COVID-19. The decreasing staff numbers in hospitals has major consequences. Hospitals across Ireland had to cancel more than 400 medical procedures in October 2021 due to staff shortages.

A Hopeful Look to the Future

Despite COVID-19’s Impact on Ireland, hope is on the horizon. In June 2021, the Irish government revealed its National Economic Recovery Plan. The plan commits €3.6 billion to assist employees and businesses enduring the harsh impacts of COVID-19. The plan also involves “a phased ending to pandemic unemployment payments, property tax increases for some and an emphasis on the green economy.”

One of the plan’s most salient features is its attempt to combat the unemployment rate. The plan extends the Public Employment service, increasing its caseload by 100,000 per year. The strategy also supports the upskilling and reskilling of the labor force. The plan also seeks to increase incentives for recruiting unemployed youth.

In October 2021, the Irish unemployment rate fell to a level of 10%, which is the nation’s lowest rate since the inception of the pandemic. The represents a sharp decline from not just the previous month’s 12.4% unemployment rate but also the 31% all-time high from the previous year. In addition, the youth unemployment rate is falling and the Central Bank predicts that Ireland’s recovery plan could create 160,000 jobs before the end of 2023.

– Richard J. Vieira
Photo: Flickr

Irish Aid
Colm Brophy, Minister for Overseas Development Aid and Diaspora, announced an additional €2 million in Irish Aid support less than two months after the initial €1 million, crediting the severity of the “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian [need] in Afghanistan” as the reason for the additional support. In children under the age of 5 years old, there is a high level of food insecurity and the risk of malnutrition. Minister Brophy stated in the press release that “One in three Afghans is facing crisis levels of food insecurity and more than half of all children under five are at risk of acute malnutrition.”

Ireland Aid Can Make International Changes

The aid that Ireland is providing has the potential to save lives and serve as a model for other countries to follow. Showing the actual impact of aid on Afghan refugees can also spark a positive reflection on the Afghan community, rather than the negative connection from recent conflicts.

Only a month prior, Minister of Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney announced €1 million in Irish aid for humanitarian needs in Afghanistan. This initial assistance was in addition to the €2 million that the HALO Trust, Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AFH) and Concern Worldwide received at the start of 2021.

The funds will go to UNICEF and the Afghanistan Humanitarian Fund (AFH). The AFH assists with the health, education and nutrition of the Afghan people.

Changing Visa Policies

On top of the Irish Aid support, Ireland has extended its refugee visas policy for up to another 150 Afghan people under the Irish Refugee Protection Program (IRPP). Ireland strongly condemns the violent action against the people of Afghanistan, especially the attacks against women and children.

It has called for safe and reliable access to humanitarian needs in Afghanistan for Aghani citizens and those who work with U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners, without exemptions. This means that even those across conflict lines must get the humanitarian access they need for safety.

Refugee Visas to Make a Difference

Ireland, which many know for its strong advocacy for women and girls, is attempting to play a role in relocating some Afghan women and girls to Ireland. There will be a priority for those who work in human rights issues and those who work with NGOs, including European and international organizations. Family reunification is also at the top of Ireland’s list in regard to the 150 refugee visas.

This is not the only way for Afghans to obtain refugee visas. There are a few protocols in place that help Afghans obtain refugee visas as long as they meet or find a way to meet the criteria. According to the 2015 International Protection Act, if an Afghani person already knows someone in Ireland who can handle their international protection application or if they have someone who will meet them at the border, they are exempt from the application fee. Deportation has also experienced less strict enforcement since COVID-19. Given the current state of Afghanistan, there is no clear answer to whether someone would experience deportation.

At the end of the day, Ireland is doing everything it can to assist with the humanitarian need in Afghanistan. In this time of crisis, it uses funds, policies and aid to do what it can. By expanding its visa list to accept more refugees, Ireland demonstrates that it will do everything possible to assist another country’s crisis.

– Veronica G. Rosas
Photo: Unsplash


Human trafficking is a global problem. Unfortunately, human trafficking in Ireland worsened in the last few years. The U.S. Department of State ranks countries on a three-tier system when it comes to human trafficking. In 2020, Ireland dropped from Tier 1 to Tier 2 watchlist because the country does not meet the minimum standards. However, Ireland is making efforts to eliminate trafficking. Here are four facts about human trafficking in Ireland.

1. In Western Europe, Ireland is the Only Country on the Tier 2 Watchlist.

Ireland now stands with areas of the world like Hong Kong and Romania on the tiered system. In Ireland, the trafficking problem progressively worsened. In 2012, the An Garda Síochána (the Irish police) detected or reported 48 victims, “44 in 2013, 46 in 2014, 78 in 2015 and 95 in 2016.” However, while human trafficking in Ireland intensifies, the rest of Western Europe remains at a higher tier designation.

Additionally, the Irish government did not report on the victims. Yet, the U.S. State Department’s report pointed out that “traffickers subject Irish children to sex trafficking within the country.” Sr Kathleen Bryant, a charity worker, believes Ireland is in “denial” about sex trafficking. She speculates that Ireland cannot admit that Irish people are exploiting one another.

2. Sexual Exploitation Exists Within Human Trafficking in Ireland.

The majority of victims are women. Sadly, the majority of these victims experience sexual exploitation. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime observed that the majority of human trafficking victims in Ireland are victims of sexual exploitation.

Recently, authorities found two women in Ireland guilty of human trafficking. They ran a prostitution ring in Ireland, and their victims journeyed from Nigeria only to experience exploitation in Ireland. One victim described herself as a “sex machine.” Sexual exploitation is a large component of human trafficking in Ireland. The U.N. report shows that 194 victims suffer from sexual abuse by 2016. Additionally, 108 people were victims of forced labor.

3. Labor Trafficking Exists in Ireland.

Besides sex trafficking, labor trafficking is prevalent in Ireland as well. There are at least 8,000 people in Ireland working as slave labor. The traffickers coerce and manipulate people into traveling to Ireland. They work in “the restaurant industry, waste management, fishing, seasonal agriculture and car-washing services.” In particular, many accuse the fishing industry of exploiting migrant workers. The current system leaves migrants with only one employment option, consequently, leaving them vulnerable to exploitation.

4. Ruhama is Fighting Human Trafficking in Ireland.

NGOs are fighting to eliminate human trafficking in Ireland. For example, the NGO, Ruhama, is working to give support to victims of human sex trafficking. The U.S. State Department report mentions how the Irish government does a poor job of identifying and assisting victims of human trafficking. Ruhama fills that gap by providing free and confidential assistance to women who are victims of sex trafficking.

Additionally, Ruhama has been lobbying and campaigning to change the systems that allow sex trafficking to happen. Ruhama began in 1989, and it helps thousands of women stuck in prostitution and sex trafficking. Ruhama’s 2019 annual report revealed that Ruhama worked with 116 victims of sex trafficking. Ruhama implements casework, Education & Development Programme, Outreach, Counselling, Bridge to Work, Holistic Therapies and Policy Work to help these women. Ruhama also played a significant part in lobbying for the 2017 Sexual Offences Act which intends to help sex trafficking victims.

Western Europe is one of the wealthiest parts of the world. Yet, human trafficking in Ireland illustrates how poverty around the globe creates problems that spread to every corner of society. Through better government oversight and continued work from organizations like Ruhama, Ireland could eventually regain its Tier 1 status.

– Mike Messina
Photo: Flickr

McDonalds Combats Global PovertyFounded in 1955, McDonald’s is one of the largest fast-food companies in the world. Renowned for its burgers and fries, McDonald’s currently offers a variety of food options in 118 different countries. As a result, the company operates more than 38,000 restaurants, employs millions of people and garners billions of dollars in revenue every year. Considering the fast-food giant’s worldwide presence, it is in a unique position to help impoverished communities around the world. Recognizing this, McDonald’s combats global poverty in several ways.

5 Ways McDonald’s Combats Global Poverty

  1. McDonald’s is one of the top employers in the world. According to Forbes, McDonald’s currently employs more than 1.9 million people worldwide. The only employers that outrank McDonald’s are the U.S. Department of Defense (3.2 million employees), China’s People’s Liberation Army (2.3 million employees) and Walmart (2.1 million employees). McDonald’s gives people around the world an opportunity to earn a living, work toward advancement opportunities and escape poverty.
  2. McDonald’s prioritizes employee education and advancement. In 2018, Mcdonald’s expanded its Archways to Opportunity program, an education initiative available to “restaurant employees in 25 countries.” The program allows employees “the opportunity to graduate from college, earn a high school diploma, learn English as a second language, complete an apprenticeship and gain access to advising services.” In Australia alone, more than 48,000 certifications have been awarded as of April 30, 2021.
  3. McDonald’s joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships. Along with several other companies, McDonald’s supports the European Alliance for Apprenticeship’s mission to “improve access to vocational training” throughout Europe. Apprenticeships are important because they allow young people to acquire practical job experience and on-the-job skills to increase their chances of employment. Overall, in Europe, McDonald’s and other companies committed “to offer 45,000 apprenticeships by 2025.” These apprenticeships will take place in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K.
  4. McDonald’s supports Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC). RMHC is a nonprofit organization that “creates, finds and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.” RMHC runs 260 Chapters in 62 nations around the world. These programs assist families with ill children by providing free accommodation near the medical center so that families can afford to be present while their child receives medical care. Additionally, the nonprofit organization Meals From The Heart works closely with McDonald’s and RMHC to provide families with freshly cooked meals during their stay. Overall, RMHC aims to offer a housing option to families experiencing financial hardship due to child medical bills.
  5. McDonald’s donated food during the COVID-19 pandemic. McDonald’s partnered with organizations, including Food Donation Connection and the Global FoodBanking Network (GFN), to donate food surpluses to families in need around the world. For example, McDonald’s donated eggs, bread and milk to struggling families in Ireland, England, Germany and Italy. Additionally, McDonald’s donated 250,000 pounds worth of food to Canadian food banks and NGOs. The company also gave thousands of liters of milk to migrant workers in Singapore.

A Significant Impact

Overall, McDonald’s combats global poverty by financing and supporting education, housing and food aid programs around the world. Despite economic and financial challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s support for communities abroad never weaned. McDonald’s continues to have a significant impact around the world by combating global poverty and helping those in need.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr