Ukraine – France utterly condemns Russian attacks against grain silos in Ukraine (August 16, 2023)
France utterly condemns last night’s Russian drone attacks against grain silos at a Danube port in the Odesa region.
These strikes, which damaged grain silos, deliberately targeted infrastructure that is vital to global food security. Russia is once again violating international law with these latest attacks. Russia continues to impede grain exports, endanger shipping in the Black Sea, and engage in its despicable blackmail of global food security. The Black Sea Grain Initiative suspended by Russia on July 17 had made it possible to ship more than 33 million tons of grain to 45 countries, particularly to the most vulnerable countries in Asia and Africa.
In response to Russia’s cynical manipulation of food security, France and its European partners have chosen the path of responsibility and international solidarity. Nationally, France has mobilized more than €840 million for food aid over the past year; that figure includes nearly €250 million in emergency aid to help the most affected populations. We are contributing to the “solidarity lanes” established by the EU, which have made it possible to export more than 60% of Ukraine’s grain by road, rail and river.
France will also continue its support for Ukrainian courts and the International Criminal Court in order to combat impunity for the crimes committed by Russia.
According to media reports in Chad, French troops will leave Niger and will be deployed in Moundou, in southern Chad; the French army will use the airport in that city as its new military base. Can you confirm these reports?
My second question concerns the news that Paris will be hosting a conference for Libya next week. Which countries will take part in that conference?
With regard to French forces in Niger, we refer you to the remarks made by the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs on August 5. French forces, like those of other countries, are in Niger at the request of the country’s legitimate authorities, on the basis of agreements signed with the country’s legitimate authorities, to help combat terrorism. We have suspended both our military and civilian cooperation since the coup. We obviously do not recognize any decisions taken by the coup plotters; we only recognize decisions taken by Niger’s legitimate authorities.
Rumors that France is hosting an international conference for Libya next week are unfounded. France reiterates its commitment, alongside that of the international community, to support Libya’s political transition. We back the mediation effort led by Abdoulaye Bathily, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative, aimed at holding presidential and legislative elections throughout Libya as quickly as possible. Following the troubling clashes that have taken place over the past two days in Tripoli, France once again urges all the parties to abide by the ceasefire.
Two years after Kabul fell to the Taliban, human rights have deteriorated considerably in Afghanistan. How do you respond to accusations by NGOs that France is not doing enough to welcome refugees?
France remains committed to the people of Afghanistan. More than 13,000 Afghan men and women have arrived in France since the beginning of 2021.
Thanks to various mechanisms put in place since spring 2021 (evacuation flights, the processing of visas in neighboring countries), France has evacuated more than 4,500 Afghan nationals and brought them to our country, among them judges, journalists, artists and activists.
Although it no longer has an embassy in Kabul, France is continuing its policy of issuing visas to Afghan nationals and remains mobilized through its consulates in neighboring countries, which have taken on new staffers. The relevant diplomatic posts are working hard to process the large number of visa applications submitted by Afghan citizens.
Afghans are mainly receiving asylum visas through a mechanism that is unique in Europe, and which France is issuing on an exceptional basis to meet their particularly urgent and obvious need for protection. France issued about a thousand of these visas in 2021 and more than 600 in 2022, mostly to Afghans. This mechanism requires our consulates to hold in-depth interviews on applicants’ situations, resulting in a final decision by the Interior Ministry, and has enabled some 30 Afghans to enter France each month since the beginning of the year.