Statements made by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris, October 17, 2013)

Syria - Refugees

Q - Could you remind us about the Syrian refugees here given yesterday’s decision to accept 500 more refugees in France? According to the latest figures provided by the French authorities, there are 900 adult applications and the same number for children; more than 95% of the requests for asylum are approved… not mentioning the other categories of residence in France. How many Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict in their country could there be in France now?

As reaffirmed yesterday by Mr. Guterres, High Commissioner for Refugees, who was received by President Hollande and the minister of foreign affairs, in terms of the number of asylum applications, regardless of origin, France ranks first in Europe: almost 60,000 applications are received every year. The High Commissioner also highlighted the quality of the procedures and effectiveness of French institutions, in particular the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA).

France is fully aware of the plight of Syrian families and Palestinian families from Syria who have been forced into exile. That’s why the applications from these refugees are being given especially sympathetic consideration: OFPRA, which handles these applications in France, approves 95% of the cases. Furthermore, France is one of the few European countries to agree to process applications in our embassies and consulates in Syria’s neighboring countries: in Beirut, Amman, Ankara and Istanbul.

France also grants other types of visa, notably long-stay visas, to Syrian nationals. Since the start of the crisis, a total of 3,000 Syrian nationals have been received in France. In 2013, we doubled the number of Syrian refugees that we received.

France made a commitment to the UNHCR to accept more Syrian refugees, notably from Syria’s neighboring countries. In the coming months, we will be able to receive 500 Syrian refugees, considered by the UNHCR to be in a situation of vulnerability, within the framework of an agreement with the UNHCR. The minister of foreign affairs and the minister of the interior are already fully mobilized to implement this agreement.