What is France doing for the victims of ethnic and religious persecution in the Middle East? (May 2017)

Following on from the conference of 8 September 2015 on the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East, France has undertaken several coordinated actions to assist the victims of ethnic and religious violence in the Middle East.

1/ Humanitarian aspect

The support fund for the victims of ethnic and religious violence, which is endowed by the Territorial Communities External Action Fund (FACECO), funded a total of 36 projects in 2015-2016 to the sum of €10.74 million. Four-fifths of this money was dedicated to humanitarian efforts, while the rest was spent on stabilization efforts. All regional countries were concerned, with a strong focus on northern Iraq.

Five areas were identified as priorities for intervention: improving housing conditions; support for returns, access to health, support for education and vocational training; combating impunity and support for media.

Moreover, the Agence Française de Développement (AFD, French Development Agency) has conducted several projects, including some in support of members of ethnic and religious minorities. In November 2015, €5 million in funding was granted for efforts in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. This enabled three projects to be funded: an initial €3 million regional project (in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq) addressing health, education and psychosocial support, and two other projects worth €1 million each for actions in Lebanon in the areas of health and vocational training.

€10 million was again allocated in 2017-2018, in order to continue the actions undertaken in the five priority sectors.

2/ Heritage aspect

  • The Abu Dhabi Conference, jointly organized by France and the United Arab Emirates in December 2016, united national leaders, international organizations and experts around the issue of protecting endangered heritage. After the conference, the ALIPH (International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas) fund was established. More than $75 million of contributions have been announced so far, including $30 million from France.
  • Another project involved identifying and mapping the intangible cultural heritage of ethnic and religious communities affected by the consequences of the conflicts in Iraq and Syria: a prior study aimed at identifying and cataloguing these practices and mapping them geographically, demographically and sociologically was carried out thanks to a subsidy granted to the Institut Français du Proche-Orient (IFPO).

3/ Political aspect

  • France provides political and diplomatic support to the Iraqi Prime Minister: an inclusive political solution is the only possible way of restoring confidence between all components of Iraqi society. France firmly supports the national reconciliation policy implemented by Prime Minister Abadi. We hope his government will achieve the reforms needed to meet the aspirations of the various, diverse components of the Iraqi nation.
  • France mobilizes the international community: a ministerial conference on the stabilization of Mosul was held in Paris on 20 October 2016, three days after the launch of operations to liberate the city.
  • France is a leading contributor to the International Coalition against Daesh (air strikes; deployment of an artillery battle group; training, advice and assistance actions for Iraqi forces).

4/ Justice/impunity aspect

  • In order to promote the fight against impunity in Syria and Iraq, France is supporting the documentation of the mass violations of human rights committed by Daesh against minorities in Iraq and Syria (€450,000 in 2016).
  • Legal proceedings have been opened at the national level by the Paris Prosecutor’s Office for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocides committed abroad.

Updated: May 2017

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