France restates commitment to protecting refugees

Press briefing by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Deputy Spokesperson (excerpts)

Paris, 13 July 2018

United Nations – Meeting between the Minister and UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (Paris, 13 July)

Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian met UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on 13 July.

The meeting took place in a context in which the UNHCR and the international community are facing increased challenges, with an unprecedented level of forced displacements of people around the world (68.5 million displaced persons compared with 38 million 10 years ago).

President Macron has just reiterated our commitment to the right to asylum, our desire to have a solidarity-based European policy and our call for the operational implementation of the conclusions of the most recent European Council. In this respect, Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized the importance of respect for the principles of humanity, the application of the rules of international law, and pragmatism.

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs reaffirmed that the UNHCR is a key partner of France and the largest international institution benefiting from French humanitarian assistance (€34.8 million in 2017; €32.8 million in 2018). He indicated that France’s commitment to the protection of refugees would also continue through the resettlement of refugees in France, in accordance with President Macron’s commitments as well as through our efforts to obtain UN sanctions against the traffickers of migrants and people smugglers, to break up the networks and to address serious human rights violations. Jean-Yves Le Drian emphasized in particular the importance France attaches to cooperation in certain Sahel countries with the UNHCR, as well as with the International Organization for Migration, in order to alleviate the suffering of migrants and refugees.

The meeting also provided an opportunity to discuss the forthcoming international meetings in this area as well as to finalize the compact on refugees drawn up on the initiative of the Office of the High Commissioner. The Minister commended the consultation process led by the UNHCR to achieve this outcome and make it possible to renew the international community’s response in support of the refugees and host countries.

Lastly, Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed that France will continue to give special attention to the work of the UNHCR and to all initiatives that can be taken to help refugees fleeing armed conflict, notably in Syria and Libya. It will continue to work on finding solutions to the crises, a tragic consequence of which is the displacement of civilians. (…)./.

Published on 18/07/2018

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