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7 mai 2008 - Birmanie : Déclaration à la presse de l’ambassadeur Ripert

Visionner le stake out.

Nous venons d’avoir des échanges prolongés, approfondis et difficiles sur la situation humanitaire au Myanmar/Birmanie. Nous avons souhaité, comme l’a fait le ministre des Affaires étrangères, Monsieur Bernard Kouchner ce matin, que les Nations Unies se saisissent du problème de la délivrance de l’aide humanitaire, de l’accès aux victimes, et de la coopération à attendre de l’ensemble des autorités nationales et internationales. Nous avons demandé que le conseil de sécurité puisse entendre un briefing par M. John Holmes, le secrétaire général adjoint chargé de l’aide humanitaire.

Cela malheureusement n’a pas été possible en raison de l’opposition d’un certain nombre de délégations qui ont jugé que pour des raisons de procédure, il n’appartenait pas au Conseil de sécurité de s’en occuper.

Nous sommes très déçus par ce résultat. Nous pensons que ce faisant, nous ne pouvons pas répondre à l’urgence et au drame que représente la situation. Plus de 20000 morts, plus de 40000 disparus : nous pensons que c’est l’ensemble des moyens internationaux qui doivent être mobilisés. Il ne nous paraît pas acceptable que l’on refuse même d’en discuter. Nous avons donc demandé que le Conseil de sécurité puisse se re-saisir de cette question demain matin.

As you know, at the initiative of the French delegation, we had an extensive discussion on the humanitarian situation in Myanmar. As the French minister for Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner, said this morning : we think it is time for the UN to intervene.

Whatever good wills shown by the government of Myanmar which spoke of its readiness to accept some international aid, the truth of the matter is that there are still a lot of problems, concrete, on the ground and the international aid is not able to reach the population in need on the ground. There are a lot of means all around Burma/ Myanmar right now, including by France, the US, India. And we are not able to deliver this emergency relief because of the opposition of the Government of Myanmar. So we think it is time for the Security Council to express its concern and as this morning the Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki Moon just did, this morning, to call on the Government of Myanmar to open its borders and accept the access of humanitarian workers in conformity with international law. Unfortunately, it was not possible to achieve this goal because of the opposition of two or three countries around the table. "

Question : Mr Kouchner talked about the responsibility to protect. According to experts, its use is limited to genocides, war crimes...?

This is procedure. There is a unprecedented drama, disastrous situation in Myanmar. The concept of responsibility to protect is known a little by France : we invented it with Bernard Kouchner 20 years ago, in 1988, precisely with a resolution dealing with access to victims. It was the beginning of this. Precisely, we think and we recall : primary responsibility is with the government of Myanmar, but if it fails or if it cannot, we have to do something. If we do not do anything, people will continue to die, epidemics will spread out, and it will be a disaster.

Question : could you be more precise on what happened during the consultations ?

For the first moment, we just asked for a briefing by Mr Holmes and it was refused for some procedural and political reasons. This is all what we asked for : the Security Council to meet and we still think we will have a meeting tomorrow because we think the situation deserves a little bit more attention and carefulness.

As long as there will be people in need, we will push for it. All around the world, France has pushed the UN to intervene. It is not only in Myanmar. We have to help Mr Ban Ki Moon and Mr Holmes to impose OCHA as the coordinator of international aid and to facilitate the access to the ground by any kind of international help.

Question : Holmes just said he does not think that an intervention will be helpful ?

Mr Holmes said what he thinks. I am speaking on behalf of France, member of the Security Council. We need to hear Mr Holmes : it is very important that Mr Holmes briefs the press. But we think that it is also important that Mr Holmes briefs the Security Council.

Question : question inaudible

No, we just asked the government of Myanmar to do what they said they would do : that is to say, to let come in the international relief, to give visas to the team of the UN and to all the international teams. France with UK is carrying out some manoeuvres in the region and we are ready to send men, food, drugs : everything which is needed to be of help. You know that there are some regions where the government of Myanmar cannot go. We are ready to do that. We are not able to do it because they do not give visas to humanitarian workers.

Question : did you push for a resolution in the Council ?

But that is not the point. My point is that we want the Security Council to spend some time dealing with the situation in Myanmar, putting some more pressure on the government of Myanmar.

To be honest, I do not understand the countries which say : "no, we do not need a briefing". This is very strange.

Question : could be more precise on who ?

Some countries. Some countries which think that we have other intentions in mind, which is not the case. I can assure you that.

We think that every people today should be aiming at helping the people in Myanmar. You know how committed we are. On the side of France, we offered 200.000 euros yesterday and we are going to commit more than 1 million euros to do that. We have boats, we have people. We are ready to do whatever is needed to help in this terrible catastrophy.

So, we are prevented, even to talk about it today in the Security Council. And to be honest : we do not accept it.

The question is : is the government in a position to deliver and to use efficiently the help and the relief that could come from abroad ? We have some doubts and what we offer is help. It is not a question of forcing Myanmar into anything. It is just a question of letting them do what they want to do. They said they accept aid : ok let’s do it, let’s go.

Question : From where is the aid coming ?

There is all kind of aid : by the UN, by OCHA coordinating all the agencies and there are also bilateral offers. For the moment, the answer is the same except for one or two people that will be authorized tomorrow they say. The answer is : "no". So this is not a question of flags, this is a question of visas. This is very concrete.

Question : Is there any alternative to the Security Council ?

We are ready to do it wherever. they want to do it in the General Assembly : fine. ECOSOC : fine. I offered to do it in the corridor of the UN if it was of any help. We want to act and to act fast. Thank you./.



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