In Paris, Ban discusses Mediterranean crisis and climate change with President Hollande

Refugees and migrants rescued at sea by the Italian Coastguard ship Bettica arrive at Port Augusta. On the boat are four separate groups of people who were rescued. Many are women and children. Photo: UNHCR/F. Malavolta

Paris, 29 April 2015 – During his visit to Paris, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday met with French President François Hollande, to discuss, among other issues the crisis in the Mediterranean, climate change and sustainable development.

With regard to the humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean Sea, Mr. Ban welcomed “with satisfaction the measures announced last week by the Heads of State and Government of the European countries,” on the Mediterranean crisis.

“They represent an important first step towards European collective action,” he added at a joint press conference with French President, François Hollande.

“This is a humanitarian crisis, not a safety issue. We need to defeat the criminals who are trafficking in human beings. But we must also concern ourselves with the root causes of migration, so that people are not forced to leave their homes,” the UN chief added.

“If there are so many migrants, it is because people fleeing war and persecution. Violent extremism is fuelled by conflict and poor governance.”

The Secretary-General said that to “confront this threat against global security; we must deploy comprehensive and complex solutions. In a few months, I will present to the General Assembly at its 70th session, a plan to fight against violent extremism.”

Mr. Ban also delivered a speech to students of the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, where he encouraged students to express themselves and become global citizens.

He urged them to take action on climate change and welcomed initiatives to organize momentum for the upcoming conference on the issue, which will be held later this year in Paris.

“Young people have more ideas and I really count on your commitment,” said the Secretary-General. “The world must find ways to adapt to the changes already underway.”

“We will need to do is considerable resources. Developed countries must clear path that will allow them to collect 100 billion by 2020 to finance climate action in developing countries. And the Green Climate Fund should start operating effectively and making payments before we meet in Paris,” he emphasized.

While he was in France, the Secretary General also announced the appointment of French national Jean Todt as his Special Envoy for Road Safety. Mr Todt is the President of the International Automobile Federation (FIA).

Each year about 1.3 million people are killed and nearly 50 million more injured on the roads worldwide. Half of the deaths are pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists, according to the UN.