Paris-based African groups seek French help for WCAR

Paris- France (PANA) -- A growing number of African groups are calling on the French government to include their leaders in the country's official delegation to the World Conference Against Racism, starting 31 August in Durban, South Africa.
At a press conference Tuesday in Paris, leaders of several pro-African pressure groups questioned why the French government was sending a delegation to Durban that did not include the principal victims of racial discrimination.
"It's a pity that we lack the financial means to even attend a meeting of such significance to our community," one of the leaders lamented to PANA.
"We were surprised that the NGOs chosen by the French government, to be part of its delegation, were not those that actively work for social rights of our community in France," Mireille Palme, president of the Pan-African alliance, Balin, charged.
Other participants refused to lay blame on the French government for their inability to attend the WCAR.
"We cannot expect France to finance our trip to Durban as we are all too aware that the government would be wary of a mass group of NGOs from Paris, descending in Durban to attack it's policies that marginalize our community," a participant said Although no official request for assistance had been sent to the French government, a representative of the South African embassy in Paris, Seraki Matsebe, warned that the WCAR was a UN conference, and as such, member states were at liberty to choose their delegations.
He said associations and NGOs could however approach governments of countries from where they were based to request to be part of government delegations.
Matsebe said an NGO Forum in Geneva was in charge of accreditation for NGO and Youth delegations to the conference.
He added that in Durban, an NGO conference would be held prior to the government level conference, which would not be open to NGOs.
The NGOs organised the press conference to register their concerns to the French authorities about what they saw as "exclusion" from the choice of delegates by government.

22 august 2001 10:05:00

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