Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkaris is scheduled to arrive in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia, this evening for state visit which will last until 11th January, the Irish Embassy in Addis Abeba said in a statement. "2019 marks 25 years of diplomatic relations between Ireland and Ethiopia and 25 years of Irish Aid's work in Ethiopia. The official visit of Prime Minister Varadkar will highlight the depth and strength of the relationship between the two countries and the achievements of our partnership to date," the statement said.
Ireland's Development Cooperation Program with Ethiopia is "the largest Irish government bilateral program in the world." In 2018, the Government of Ireland, through Irish Aid, invested €30 million (970 million Ethiopian birr) in social protection, health, rural development and women's empowerment in Ethiopia. In 2019, Irish Aid will increase this investment by almost 7% to €32 million (1 billion Ethiopian Birr). This is part of Ireland's commitment to grow our total ODA (Official Development Assistance) to 0.7% of GNI by 2030.
Prime Minister Varadkar will arrive in Addis Abeba from Mali. He is expected to meet Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed tomorrow "to discuss Ireland-Ethiopia relations, including Ireland's support for the political and economic reforms underway in Ethiopia, the growth of our Ireland's development cooperation program with Ethiopia and regional issues in the Horn of Africa, including the historic rapprochement between Ethiopia and Eritrea." Prime Minister Varadkar will also pay a courtesy call on President Sahle-Work Zewde, meet with Irish NGOs working in Ethiopia and attend a reception with the Irish community in Ethiopia, where he will launch the new Ethio-Irish Alumni Association.
According to the schedule from discussed in the statement from the embassy, On 10 January, Prime Minister Varadkar will travel to Lalibela to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and will announce a new partnership between Ireland and Ethiopia on cultural heritage and rural tourism. He will then travel on to Axum and will visit a number of programs in the agriculture, health, education and social protection sectors jointly supported by Irish Aid and the Ethiopian government. On 11 January, he will visit refugee camps near Shire which host Eritrean refugees and meet with refugees and local authorities to discuss Ireland's support for Ethiopia in hosting the second largest refugee population in Africa and our joint commitment to the Global Compact for Migration. AS