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Situation at the Tunisia-Libya border

Published on May 12, 2011
Reply by Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, May 10, 2011

I share your concerns on the situation at the Tunisia-Libya border, where there’s a huge flood of refugees. It’s difficult to estimate how many there are, but we know this is a real humanitarian tragedy.

I want, however, to highlight the increased number of mortar attacks coming from Libya, which clearly violates Tunisia’s sovereignty and international law.

France was one of the first countries to react to this humanitarian tragedy: bilaterally at first, by organizing an airlift allowing us to repatriate several thousand Egyptians to their country, as well as several hundred Africans. We also took part in the programme to take charge of the migrants at the Libyan border – the joint UNHCR-International Organization for Migration programme. As such, we have just donated 51 tonnes of humanitarian freight.

We’re also acting at European level. The Commission’s humanitarian aid department – the ECHO programme, which you’re familiar with – has already released €40 million to support the victims of the Libya crisis, mainly refugees. During my recent visit to Tunisia, where I was warmly welcomed by the Tunisian authorities, I announced €350 million worth of aid from the French Development Agency, which will be made available as soon as possible.

Tomorrow I’ll be having a meeting with my Tunisian counterpart, who’s in Paris, and we’ll take stock of the situation together to see how we can further improve our aid, particularly in the area of health.

I want to finish by emphasizing that the only lasting solution to the tragedy you mention is obviously an end to the hostilities in Libya and the opening of a national dialogue, under conditions in line with the Security Council resolutions. As you know, this is what we’re tirelessly working on./.

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