Official speeches and statements - April 28, 2020
The foreign and defence ministers of the G5 Sahel countries and France, and the G5 Sahel Permanent Secretary, held a video conference on April 27, 2020 to examine the evolution of the situation in the Sahel.
The Ministers highlighted the urgent need for solidarity to address the COVID-19 pandemic and reaffirmed their strong will to do everything possible to limit the health and economic impact of this unprecedented crisis. They affirmed their full commitment and involvement in the management of the pan-African response initiative, based on strong support to health systems and a robust response to the economic, financial and social consequences of the crisis through an immediate moratorium on the payment of all external debts, the creation of a humanitarian bridge between Europe and Africa, and support for research. In this context, the ministers underlined the importance of being able to examine the issue of debt cancellations in Africa and appealed to all creditors to undertake swift examination of this issue.
They then reaffirmed their commitment to the full implementation of the decisions adopted during the Pau summit on January 13, 2020 and the G5 Sahel summit in Nouakchott on 25 February 2020, and agreed to meet again before the summit to be held in Mauritania on June 29 and 30. The foreign and deference ministers of the G5 Sahel countries and France examined and agreed on local indicators to assess the precise territorial impact of the common commitments, and will present the results jointly during the summit on June 29 and 30.
The ministers welcomed the progress made in the fight against terrorism, including the activation of a joint command mechanism between the Barkhane Force and the G5 Sahel Joint Force, the launch of the G5 Sahel Joint Force’s Operation SAMA, and the implementation of several multi-party operations. They congratulated the Chadian armed forces on their operational success against Boko Haram, which has now been driven out of all the Chadian islands of Lake Chad, and called for international assistance to consolidate the results of that operation. They also highlighted the importance of sending a Chadian battalion to the three-borders area as soon as possible. They welcomed the commitment of international partners in the Sahel and called for increased support to the action of the G5 Sahel countries’ armed forces and to joint military operations in the Sahel, including within Task Force Takuba, which was launched on March 27.
The ministers called for swift and full implementation of the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel (P3S) initiative announced at the 2019 G7 Summit in Biarritz, in order to back the efforts of G5 Sahel countries to restore government services across their territories.
The ministers encouraged all G5 Sahel partners, particularly within the Sahel Alliance framework, to focus on an integrated territorial approach to development, as well as humanitarian and stabilization aid, in order to facilitate the return of government services to the benefit of all populations in the Sahel. In this respect, the ministers expressed their support for ECOWAS for the financial backing of Sahel countries in the fight against terrorism and requested full delivery of the announced resources.
Lastly, the ministers welcomed the establishment of the Coalition for the Sahel and called upon the other bilateral and multilateral partners of the G5 Sahel countries that share the same values and goals to join the Coalition and contribute to the joint efforts under its respective pillars.
The United Kingdom, Ireland and France are linked together by trade which is centuries old, and which has thrived through the most difficult of times. Our collective well-being depends on those who move freight between our nations. These are crucial economic and social links which we must maintain.
The current COVID-19 crisis presents a threat to the movement of goods if we do not act.
We recognize the importance of the partnership between our nations at this difficult time. That is why we make this joint statement to affirm our wish to ensure freight keeps moving, which remains essential during this crisis.
Ireland has already announced an intervention in support of some critical routes on the continental and southern corridors from Ireland. The UK has made an announcement of support for critical routes into and out of the UK. France intends to support these efforts during the COVID-19 crisis and thereby contribute to maintaining links with the European continent as a whole.
We have initiated a dialogue between our three governments during this crisis to strengthen partnership and share best practices. Residents, workers and businesses should be reassured by our shared commitment.
Working together in partnership is important at this difficult time to help keep freight flowing between and through our countries.
Grant Shapps, Secretary of State for Transport, United Kingdom
Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister of State for Transport, attached to the Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, France
Shane Ross, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Ireland.
[Source of English text: UK Department for Transport]
In view of the health situation, all residence permits, official receipts for applications (récépissés) and long-stay visas expiring between March 16 and May 15, 2020, which had already been extended by three months, are being extended for a further three months by Ordinance No. 2020-460 of April 22, 2020, making a total extension of six months.
This measure concerns the following documents, which would have expired between March 16 and May 15, 2020:
- Long-stay visas;
- Residence permits;
- Permissions for temporary residence;
- Récépissés for residence permit applications.
With services for residence permit applicants at prefectures currently suspended, this extension is automatic.
I would like to thank USG Lacroix and Special Envoy Parfait Onanga for their very informative briefing.
I will be brief and limit my remarks to three points.
First, France condemns in the strongest terms the escalation of intercommunal violence and recent violent clashes in Kolom. I would like to highlight our deepest concerns over reports of sexual violence affecting women and children and internal displacements in this context. We call on both the governments of Sudan and of South Sudan to coordinate an investigation as announced, and we recall that those responsible must be held accountable and brought to justice. These terrible events confirm that the situation in Abyei is still fragile, and that the deployment of UNISFA is still highly needed.
However, and it’s my second point, only a true political process to address the issue of Abyei and of the border demarcation can really stabilize the security in Abyei. France calls on both governments of Sudan and of South Sudan to seize the opportunity of the improvement of their bilateral relations to tackle the Abyei issue and to launch a serious dialogue to achieve a political solution, in accordance with the 2011 Agreement. We welcome the progress in the peace processes in both countries as reported by Special Envoy Parfait Onanga. We encourage all armed groups in Darfur to join the negotiations.
France also encourages the African Union, the African Union High-Level Implementation Panel and the UN Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa to intensify their mediation roles with regard to achieving a political solution between Sudan and South Sudan in accordance with the 2011 agreement. We should all do our best to avoid that the situation in Abyei becomes a new frozen conflict and UNISFA an open-ended mission. As the Secretary-General wrote it in his last report, the international community cannot accept nor afford it.
My last remark regards the reconfiguration of UNISFA, as decided by this Council. We deeply regret that the three formed police units (FPUs) are still pending deployment. We call on both governments to provide full support to UNISFA in the deployment of its personnel, including through issuing the requested visas. The three FPU’s must be deployed as soon as possible. It’s the only way to deal with the high level of criminality in Abyei, and to adapt the force to the current challenges. At the same time, both parties should engage to implement the Abyei Police service, in line with the 2011 Agreement.
Lastly, France urges the UN and all the stakeholders to do their best to deploy the deputy civilian head of mission and the civilian team. UNISFA must be able to support the peace process, including at the communal level, and to engage with the African Union and the relevant stakeholders in Juba and Khartoum.
I thank you: