Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi on July 13.
This 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 just reiterated our attachment to the right to asylum, our desire to have a solidarity-based European policy and our call for the effective implementation of the conclusions of the most recent European Council. In this respect, Jean-Yves Le Drian underscored 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 recipient of 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 human smugglers, to break up the networks and to address serious human rights violations. Jean-Yves Le Drian notably underscored the importance France attaches to cooperation in certain Sahel countries with the UNHCR, as well as with the International Migration Organization, in order to alleviate the suffering of migrants and refugees.
This 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 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 of the initiatives that can be undertaken to help the 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.