Statements made by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson (Paris - April 25, 2018)
• Freedom of the press – Reporters sans Frontières annual report (April 25, 2018)
• Health – World Malaria Day (April 25, 2018)
Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, Minister of State attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, took part in the Brussels II conference on the future of Syria and the region on April 25.
This conference, chaired by the EU and the UN, made it possible to strengthen the international response to the humanitarian consequences of the crisis and improve support for the refugees and host countries.
During the conference, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne announced that the French effort for the period 2018-2020 would amount to more than a billion euros in support of the Syrian people and host communities: almost €250 million in grants and €850 million in loans. This commitment includes the €50 million emergency response program for Syria announced on April 16 by President Macron.
These announcements are consistent with the French support announced during the conferences in London in February 2016 and in Brussels in 2017. During the conferences we pledged to provide assistance amounting to €1.1 billion over three years (2016-2018): 200 million in grants for Syria and its neighboring countries and 900 million in loans for Jordan.
These amounts will make it possible to help the Syrian population and to establish the conditions in Syria conducive to the voluntary, safe and sustainable return of the refugees when the time is right. They should also help to bolster the economic resilience of the countries that are hosting the refugees, principally Jordan and Lebanon.
On the sidelines of the conference, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne delivered a speech during an event that was co-hosted by France on tackling impunity for the crimes committed in Syria. This is a priority for France’s diplomatic action; to that end, France reaffirmed its support for the International Commission of Inquiry and for the International, Impartial and Independent Mechanism to investigate the most serious crimes committed in Syria, both of which were represented at this event. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne reaffirmed France’s determination to address the chemical weapons threat, which represents a global danger and serves to undermine the authority of international law. It was with this in mind that France launched, in Paris, the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons aimed at supporting the work initiated by the relevant international organizations, and at gathering, compiling and saving all available information on those responsible for using chemical weapons.
We were concerned to learn of the conclusions of Reporters sans Frontières’ latest report, published on April 25 and outlining an upsurge in hostility toward the media and journalists.
Amid a proliferation of crises, journalists are increasingly targeted. Defending the freedom of the press and freedom of expression, protecting journalists as they exercise their profession, and combating impunity for those who attack these fundamental principles, are foreign policy priorities for France.
France therefore supports numerous initiatives, including the establishment via UN General Assembly resolution 68/163 of an International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists and the project to create a Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for the Protection of Journalists, as President Macron reiterated last September at the UN General Assembly. We also support the efforts of the UN Secretariat, working closely with the NGO Reporters sans Frontières, to establish a Focal Points Network to bolster the effectiveness of existing mechanisms at the UN.
France is also working within the UN to ensure respect for the principles of the freedom of the press and expression and calls for the full implementation of resolutions 1738 and 2222 on the protection of journalists in armed conflict, adopted by the Security Council on December 23, 2006, and May 27, 2015, respectively.
That is why France took the initiative to host "Civil society, media and public authorities: democracies facing the manipulation of information," an international conference in Paris on April 4 in line with France’s policy on the protection of the freedom of expression. As Jean-Yves Le Drian reaffirmed on that occasion, "journalism is an instrument of freedom without which citizenship cannot be exercised in an enlightened way." The right to inform or to be informed and the ability to express critical views are vital to democratic debate.
Disinformation campaigns are based on the massive, malicious use of cyberspace and represent a threat to democracy and an attack on the sovereignty of the states that are targeted. Disseminating reliable, verified, solid information while respecting the pluralism of opinion is an important challenge for democracy
With their exacting professional standards, journalists and media personnel are active participants in this regard.
Although the mortality rate for malaria dropped 60% between 2000 and 2015, preventing the deaths of seven million people, the World Health Organization warns that progress has stalled in the fight against this pandemic. In 2016, there were 216 million cases of malaria, i.e., five million more cases than in 2015, which caused 445,000 deaths, 91% of them in Africa.
In line with its commitment to the sustainable development goals, France is taking concrete action on malaria.
Our country is the second-largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. With more than $9.1 billion invested in programs to fight malaria since 2002 in more than 100 pays, this fund has made it possible to distribute 795 million mosquito nets impregnated with insecticide and to treat 668 million cases, thereby reducing the number of deaths by 50% in the countries where it operates.
France is also a founding member and leading donor of Unitaid, which allocates $225 million to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malaria. The organization invested $68 million in a project aimed at assessing the effectiveness in children under five years of age of a preventive treatment administered during the rainy season. Between 2015 and 2017, this project prevented 10 million cases and 60,000 deaths. With maximum coverage of this preventive treatment, 18 million cases of malaria could be avoided by 2022, saving more than 100,000 lives.
Finally, through the 5% Initiative, aimed at building the capacity of French-speaking countries by additional contributions on top of Global Fund subsidies, implemented in 2011 by Expertise France, an operator of the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, France has also committed more than €14 million through technical assistance missions, long-term projects, and funding operational research projects.
The French Development Agency, the pharmaceutical industry, civil society and the research community are also contributing to our country’s mobilization.