France reiterates solidarity with Lebanon in refugee crisis
Lebanon/fight against terrorism/migration – Press conference by M. Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister of the Interior
Beirut, 26 October 2015
First of all I’d like to thank the Minister of the Interior, both for the warm welcome I’ve been given to Beirut today and for the excellent relationship of trust between us. I thank him and the Prime Minister of Lebanon for an excellent discussion in which we talked about many subjects of common interest, [such as] the fight against terrorism and cooperation on security. I can say here in Beirut that our two countries have absolutely exemplary cooperation on security which results from a high level of trust and leads us to act effectively against those who attack our countries by attacking our values of tolerance, freedom and democracy.
We also discussed the situation in the region. This led us to focus on the special situation Lebanon faces as a result of the influx of refugees it’s having to take in, a situation Europe is also facing: since the beginning of 2015, 700,000 refugees – many from Syria, Iraq and Eritrea – have crossed the EU’s external borders to request asylum in Europe. I’ve come to reiterate the solidarity between France and Lebanon in the face of this migration crisis, even though the realities are very different in our two countries because Lebanon has taken in 1.2 million refugees.
To show its solidarity, France – as the President said at the United Nations General Assembly – intends to devote €100 million over two years to helping the host communities and NGOs provide assistance of the highest standard to refugees in distress. I must also say that the level of mobilization I saw from the Lebanese administration, the Lebanese ministries, in the Bekaa Valley this morning is absolutely exemplary. I’ve also said that of those €100 million, France will devote €40 million – i.e. nearly half – to Lebanon. That’s a way of saying we’re together in this ordeal, and also saying we’re aware of the situation facing the NGOs and refugees, who must have the whole international community’s support. France is, of course, playing its part in this.
I’m also going to say that in the framework of the relocation and rehousing process to which France has given its agreement and of which it was even one of the architects, France will, over the next two years, as the President has said, take in 30,000 refugees, many of whom will be from the region. Those 30,000 refugees will be taken in as part of the relocation process by which the different EU countries will take part in hosting those refugees who have crossed the EU’s external borders in recent months. This relocation process will be carried out from the “hot spots” in Greece and Italy. And as part of the rehousing process, which concerns 20,000 people, France will then take in nearly 3,000 refugees – 2,765 to be precise.
For 2016, France has decided to devote two-thirds of the efforts it will make under the rehousing process to rehousing refugees who are in the camps in Lebanon, which in 2016 will lead us to double to 1,000 the number of people we’ll take in from camps in Lebanon in 2016. It’s a symbolic contribution as part of what we’re doing overall for refugees, and it testifies to our solidarity with Lebanon in the framework of our commitments.
This day of work, here in Lebanon, which should lead to more – we’ll no doubt see each other again in the coming weeks, given the situation – shows the high level of trust existing between our two countries, our excellent bilateral relations and also the strong friendship between France and Lebanon./.