French embassies in SA relying on local authorities for protection

2015-11-17 20:15
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Pretoria - The French embassies and consulate in South Africa were putting their trust in local authorities for their protection, officials said on Tuesday. 

"Security is the responsibility of the hosting state," ambassador of France to South Africa Elisabeth Barbier said. 

She said they were in communication with the department of international relations and co-operation regarding their safety. 

Special precautions had been put in place. 

"French embassies all over the world are on high alert," Barbier said.

She was speaking at a media briefing held at the French Embassy in Pretoria. 

Barbier said migrants in France should not be blamed for the weekend attacks which left more than 120 people dead. 

"Authorities have been careful to send a message the image of lawful refugees must not be affected by criminals. 

"There is a clear difference between criminals, terrorists and refugees," she said. 

Barbier was responding following reports that one of the terrorists who committed suicide was found with a Syrian passport in his possession. 

The groups of terrorists attacked restaurants, bars, a concert hall and the national stadium on Friday night, gunning down people and setting off bombs. 

Despite this, France continued welcoming foreign nationals and asylum seekers to its land.

"The borders of France are open. France welcomes all visitors with open arms," Barbier said.

Visa regulations to the European country had not been changed, she said.

Barbier highlighted what happened to France could have happened to any other nation.

She said the attack on Paris was an attack on diversity, adding the nation was targeted for what it stood for.

"We are all affected regardless of our citizenship, colour or religion," Barbier said. 

She said African countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Burundi, which had also been victims of terrorist attacks, were also in their thoughts. 

It was understood some 19 countries had lost citizens in the Paris attack.

Tunisia, Algeria, Senegal and Morocco were among the African countries that had lost citizens. 

No South Africans were killed in the attack.

Meanwhile, outside the French embassy, flags flew at half-mast and flowers had also been placed at the gate. 

Barbier said seeing what had happened in her home country was devastating. 

"It is terrible actually... It was a hard blow for even our highest authority," she said. 

"Though France is wounded, we will never surrender. We will never let terrorists dictate who we are," she said. 

"France will respond with all its might. Its response will be fearless," she added.

Read more on:    paris under attack

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