Commissioner Georgieva addressed representatives of international aid organisations, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly All Party Group on International Development, and guests including representatives of the main churches in Northern Ireland. The Belfast Community Gospel Choir welcomed the Commissioner and guests to the event.
Commissioner Georgieva later held discussions with the Junior Ministers in the Northern Ireland Executive, Jonathan Bell MLA and Jennifer McCann MLA, Member of the European Parliament Jim Nicholson, the Northern Ireland representative to the European Economic and Social Committee Jane Morrice and the Chief Executive of NI-CO, Graeme McCammon.
In her address to breakfast guests, Commissioner Georgieva spoke of the EU's excellent track record of providing financial aid and practical assistance to the most vulnerable people in need, whether in response to natural disasters or as a result of war and conflict. She identified climate change and conflict as the two main causes of human suffering among the 150 million people worldwide currently being helped by the EU, and called on aid organisations to work together to maximise the impact of the EU's Aid budget. She was pleased to report that a recent survey showed that 88% of Europeans support the EU's Aid Budget which currently stands at around €850 per annum. The Commissioner spoke of her admiration for relief workers operating in extreme circumstances and of the risks they face in their work, sometimes at the cost of their lives, as seen recently in Pakistan and Niger where health workers inoculating children against Polio have been killed.
Following her visit to Northern Ireland, the Commissioner travelled on to Dublin where she is attending the Informal Meeting of EU Development Ministers held under the Irish Presidency of the European Union.
For further information contact:
Colette FitzGerald, Head European Commission Office in N. Ireland: Tel: 07747 142400
David Sharrock, Spokesperson to Commissioner Georgieva: Tel: + 00 32 460 750628