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Official speeches and statements - August 9, 2018

Published on August 13, 2018

1. Israel - Gaza Strip - Press release of the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs (Paris, 09/08/2018)

France deplores the escalation of violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip. It condemns the firing of rockets toward Israel and would like restraint to prevail and the ceasefire to be upheld by all parties in order to prevent further civilian casualties.

These incidents underscore the urgent need to work toward finding a lasting political solution for Gaza and to respond effectively to the humanitarian crisis affecting the Palestinian population.

This notably requires the lifting of the blockade, on the one hand - while respecting Israel’s security concerns - and the achievement of inter-Palestinian reconciliation and the full return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, on the other.

France, in collaboration with its European partners, will remain fully mobilized to support efforts to that end./.

2. United Nations - UN secretary-general’s proposal to appoint Michelle Bachelet as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights - Press release of the ministry for Europe and foreign affairs (Paris, 09/08/2018)

France welcomes the proposal by the UN secretary-general to appoint Michelle Bachelet as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, to which it will lend its full support.

Michelle Bachelet has the international standing necessary to fulfill this challenging mandate. She has demonstrated, through the high-level positions she has held in the past and in her fight to promote democracy, the strength of her commitment to promoting human rights. As the first executive director of UN Women, she also has extensive UN experience.

As we prepare to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this year, France calls on the UN member states to support this appointment tomorrow./.

3. Official development assistance in the Sahel - Reply by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs to a written question in the Senate (Paris, 02/08/2018)

The members of the Sahel Alliance, now 10 in number (France, Germany, the European Union, World Bank, African Development Bank, UNDP, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Luxembourg), aim to more effectively coordinate donors’ actions to achieve swift results that benefit people, particularly in the most vulnerable regions.

To this end, the Alliance is concentrating its action on six sectors (young people’s employability, agriculture and food security, access to energy, governance, decentralization and basic services, domestic security), taking the gender dimension into account across the board (approach currently being defined).

Today the Alliance has a portfolio of more than 500 projects worth euro7.5 billion still to be implemented on the ground. During discussions held with the authorities of the G5 Sahel countries in the first half of 2018, the Alliance identified five especially vulnerable areas of priority action where its principles will be implemented - this year as far as possible - through multi-sector and multi-donor projects. These regions are: Hodh (Mauritania), Konna (Mali), Tillabéri-Tahoua (Niger), Nord Sahel (Burkina Faso) and the Lake Chad Basin. In certain regions, projects exist and discussions are under way to coordinate efforts more effectively (Lake Chad).

In some of these regions, the attention given by the Alliance has already enabled existing projects to be reoriented to provide a rapid response to needs (youth project for Tillabéri).

In other cases, this commitment by the Alliance’s members is leading them to identify projects or co-funding to support initiatives already under way (around the World Bank project in Kona) or to identify new projects (Hodh and Tillabéri) or national projects that can be supported (Burkina Faso’s Sahel Emergency Plan).

The founding principles of the Alliance also include the search for innovative methods, with the aim of improving the effectiveness of our actions in the Sahel. Indeed, the goal is not only to do more but to do better. To this end, the Alliance’s members have embarked on work to identify the ways of working (co-funding, instruction procedures, follow-up/assessment, choice of project ownership, types of project, etc.) which are best suited to the region, and its conclusions should be validated in the coming weeks.

Building on these discussions, the AFD [French Development Agency] has also launched its Sahel Conference, an internal exercise focused on developing the Agency’s ways of working (project design, instruction procedures, follow-up/assessment, etc.), in terms of project design, procedures and organization. The conclusions of this process will feed into the Alliance’s discussions.

Finally, the Alliance’s members recognize the high expectations in terms of accountabilty, both among the donor community and among the people of the Sahel. Mutual accountabilty is also one of the founding principles. Defining indicators and strengthening data collection are two major challenges the Alliance must face in order to be robustly accountable. To this end, the Alliance’s coordination unit is currently establishing an accountability system enabling the 36 sectorial targets adopted by its members to be monitored. In terms of official development assistance, in 2016 the Sahel benefited from total assistance of euro382.31 million. Data are not yet available for 2017 but should show a marked increase thanks to the strengthening of the vulnerability alleviation facility, which amounts to euro100 million for 2017, distributed over four areas: Lake Chad, the Central African Republic, the Syria crisis region, and the Sahel via the Tiwara initiative, which will mobilize some euro200 million extra over the period 2017-2021 for the five countries in the region.

By adopting France’s new strategy to respond to fragile situations “Prevention, Resilience and Sustainable Peace", the February 2018 meeting of the Interministerial Committee for International Cooperation and Development (CICID) made dealing with crises and vulnerable states a priority of France’s development policy and, within this framework, it envisages stepping up our financial commitment in the Sahel.

Moreover, the CICID has decided on an unprecedented increase in the volume of the AFD’s planned commitments in the form of grants, with a quantitative leap of euro1 billion in 2019 compared to 2018. In accordance with the CICID’s priority targets, two-thirds of this subsidized activity will be concentrated on the 19 priority countries (18 of them African LDCs), including the five Sahel countries. This expenditure will be continued throughout the five-year term in order to achieve the 0.55% of GNI allocated to ODA in 2022. So the financial outlay is being hugely increased to boost the credibility and effectiveness of our support to the Sahel./.