Statement by Ambassador Nicolas de Rivière, Permanent Representative of France, at a UN Security Council Briefing by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees

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May 30, 2024

Mr. President,

I would like to thank Mr Grandi for his briefing, and above all for his action as head of the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees.

The year 2024 is marked by crises that are driving millions of people to flee fighting, persecution or the consequences of food insecurity and climate change.

In 2023, 110 million people were forcibly displaced. In this context, the UNHCR’s mandate remains pivotal. I applaud the work, courage and the commitment of all of the High Commissioner’s staff.

Since the adoption of the Global Compact on Refugees in 2018, France has provided a global response to forced displacement. It must be adapted to every situation.

The tyranny of the Syrian regime has led to the displacement of over 13 million people. We know what it means for neighboring countries to host millions of refugees means, particularly Lebanon. During the Brussels VIII conference on May 27, France announced a new contribution of 150 million euros for 2024. The UNHCR is not the problem. The responsibilities lie with the Syrian regime. France, together with its partners in the region, will step up its support for the High Commissioner’s efforts to ensure that the conditions for the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of refugees to Syria are finally guaranteed.

In Gaza, where UNRWA is responsible for providing assistance to the civilian population, humanitarian aid is only trickling in. The Israeli military operation at Rafah has led to the further displacement of more than 1.7 million civilians across the Gaza Strip. France has been warning from the outset of the need for strict compliance with international humanitarian law and full, unimpeded access for humanitarian aid. It recalls its appeal for an immediate ceasefire, the immediate and unconditional release of the hostages, and an immediate end to the intervention in Rafah. The Security Council must work towards a two-state solution, which is the only way to give Israelis and Palestinians alike a prospect of peace. France will continue to work towards this goal.

In Sudan, the conflict has led to the displacement of nearly 9 million people. More than 1.8 million of them have found refuge in neighboring countries: Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, CAR and South Sudan. France and Germany joined forces on April 15 to organize a humanitarian conference in Paris to step up aid to Sudan and neighboring countries, resulting in the announcement of over 2 billion euros in aid.

Russian aggression against Ukraine has forced 8 million Ukrainians to leave their homeland. The Russian offensive against Kharkiv could further worsen this situation. Access to displaced persons in Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, as well as to Ukrainian populations in Russia, remains essential.

In Nagorno-Karabakh, over 100,000 people – the entire population – have been forced to leave their homes following the military offensive in autumn 2023. France salutes the UNHCR’s action on behalf of these people.

The situation in Burma has deteriorated in recent months, due to the intensification of fighting and abuses by Burmese security forces against civilians. The number of displaced people has increased 10-fold since 2020. The situation of internally displaced persons and refugees belonging to the Rohingya minority is worrying: the UNHCR continues to provide essential support in Bangladesh and in Myanmar to meet the needs of these populations.

Finally, in Afghanistan, the lack of political prospects and the systematic violation of human rights, in particular the rights of women and girls, by the Taliban continue to fuel departures. France is closely following the large-scale displacement of people, both voluntary and forced, to and from Afghanistan, and thanks the UNHCR for the quality of its work to protect these vulnerable populations.

Mr. High Commissioner,

France will continue to support UNHCR, and is proud to have co-sponsored the second Global Refugee Forum last December. This was an important opportunity to respond collectively to the challenges facing refugees.

Our financial contribution amounted to 120 million euros in 2023, and France will maintain it as far as possible at this level through 2024. France is assuming its share of responsibility by pursuing its refugee resettlement and legal access programs, with a particular focus on women under its “Avec elles” initiative.

It is, of course, up to this Council to create the conditions for a lasting settlement to crises, in order to address the root causes of population displacement.

In conclusion, I would like to strongly endorse the appeal made earlier by the High Commissioner for full respect for international humanitarian law.

Thank you.

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