The volunteers helping return the bodies of those who died in the Channel tragedy

By and
A homage in Calais to those who died when their inflatable dinghy sank in the Channel on November 24th. © Photo Marie Magnin / Hans Lucas via AFP A homage in Calais to those who died when their inflatable dinghy sank in the Channel on November 24th. © Photo Marie Magnin / Hans Lucas via AFP

All of the 27 bodies recovered after the sinking in the Channel last month of an inflatable dinghy carrying migrants attempting to reach the UK from France were finally identified last week, when official permits were issued for their burials. The dead were from seven different countries, to where their families want their remains to be returned. But, as Nejma Brahim and Sarah Brethes report, the French state will only provide for burials in France, and the costs involved of repatriating the bodies are beyond the relatives’ resources.

Deaths in the Channel: the French agency fighting migrant trafficking gangs

By and
An OCRIEST officer arresting a suspect during the search of an apartment in the Paris suburb of Viry-Chatillon, March 2014. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP An OCRIEST officer arresting a suspect during the search of an apartment in the Paris suburb of Viry-Chatillon, March 2014. © Photo Martin Bureau / AFP

On November 24th, at least 27 people died when their inflatable dinghy sank in the Channel as they attempted a clandestine crossing to the UK from France. Behind the crossings are highly organised criminal gangs which make vast profits from the migrant trafficking, even ordering container loads of small boats from China. They are the target of a dedicated French police agency called the OCRIEST, which is investigating last month’s tragedy. In this interview with Mediapart, its director, Xavier Delrieu, details how the gangs operate and the methods employed to dismantle them.

Sarkozy's 'cardinal' Claude Guéant jailed in Paris

By and
Claude Guéant at the Paris law courts, December 5th 2018. © Photo Eric Feferberg / AFP Claude Guéant at the Paris law courts, December 5th 2018. © Photo Eric Feferberg / AFP

Claude Guéant, once Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-hand man, a former French police chief who remained faithful throughout the scandals that have since engulfed the former French president, was on Monday jailed in the Santé prison in Paris. Fabrice Arfi and Michel Deléan report on the fall of a man nicknamed ‘The Cardinal’, whose loyalty was rewarded with posts that elevated him to secretary general of the presidential office, the Élysée Palace, and subsequently as Sarkozy’s hardline law-and-order interior minister, who is implicated in numerous corruption scandals and who, in the eyes of investigating magistrates, has yet to tell the full truth of what he knows about his former boss.

How anti-fascists get dubbed 'fascists': the French far-right ploy to subvert language

By
The setting for the political rally held by Éric Zemmour on December 5th 2021 at Villepinte near Paris. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart The setting for the political rally held by Éric Zemmour on December 5th 2021 at Villepinte near Paris. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

How is it that 'antifas' or anti-fascist activists are now described as “fascist” in certain quarters of the French media? Or that anti-racists have become the new racists? Lucie Delaporte looks at the way in which the French far-right have long subverted the meaning of words in a deliberate attempt to make extremist labels meaningless.

How Right will she be? Presidential hopeful Valérie Pécresse's tricky political balancing act

By
Éric Ciotti and Valérie Pécresse at the HQ of their party Les Républicains, Saturday December 6th. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Éric Ciotti and Valérie Pécresse at the HQ of their party Les Républicains, Saturday December 6th. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

Valérie Pécresse's victory in becoming the presidential candidate for the right-wing Les Républicains for the 2022 election has been greeted with an opinion poll suggesting she can defeat incumbent President Emmanuel Macron. However, the president of the Paris region is faced with a political quandary: how does she retain support from those who backed her nearest challenger for the candidacy, right-winger Éric Ciotti, who are attracted by the far right, without repelling the “moderate” right-wing voters who currently support Macron? As Ilyes Ramdani reports, it is the first key strategic challenge of her campaign - and perhaps the most crucial one.

The neo-Nazi 'Zouaves Paris' group behind the violence at Zemmour rally

The violent scenes during Éric Zemmour's political rally at Villepinte near Paris, December 5th 2021. © AFP The violent scenes during Éric Zemmour's political rally at Villepinte near Paris, December 5th 2021. © AFP

On Monday December 6th a small ultra-right group called 'Zouaves Paris' claimed responsibility for the violence committed against anti-racist activists at the previous day's political rally held by far-right presidential candidate Éric Zemmour. At the time, some people in charge of security at the event thanked those who carried out the attacks. On Tuesday the presidential candidate insisted he “condemned all the violence” while at the same time describing the activists from SOS Racisme as “provocateurs” and “handout seekers”. Sébastien Bourdon, Karl Laske and Marine Turchi report on the background to the ultra-right group involved in last Sunday's violence.

Veteran candidate Mélenchon battles to show he is best-placed on Left to win French presidency

By
Jean-Luc Mélenchon speaking at his rally in the La Défense district of Paris, December 5th 2021. © Photo Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP Jean-Luc Mélenchon speaking at his rally in the La Défense district of Paris, December 5th 2021. © Photo Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP

At his first major political rally ahead of next year's presidential elections, radical left politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon positioned himself as a bastion of the Left against the Right and far right in France.  The veteran founder of La France Insoumise also showed at the gathering in Paris that he was able to pull together a diverse range of figures from across the left of the political spectrum. Pauline Graulle reports.

Did French school fail Dinah, 14, who took her life after being bullied?

By
Dinah. © Mediapart Dinah. © Mediapart

A month after the suicide of 14-year-old Dinah in October 2021, her parents lodged an official complaint with the prosecution authorities over “bullying”, and have accused the middle school she attended in north-east France of failing to provide assistance to a person in danger. The school and the education authorities deny there was any breakdown in pupil welfare procedures. But other parents have told Mediapart of their concerns over how the same establishment handled the bullying of their children. David Perrotin reports.

Why new Omicron variant highlights the urgent need to lift vaccine patents

By
The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine being deployed in front of a voting booth in Soweto, November 1st 2021, during local elections in South Africa. © Photo Michèle Spatari / AFP The Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccine being deployed in front of a voting booth in Soweto, November 1st 2021, during local elections in South Africa. © Photo Michèle Spatari / AFP

The emergence of the new variant of Covid-19 called Omicron should serve as a wakeup call to rich countries that unless the whole world is given access to vaccines the pandemic is doomed to continue. Instead, the new variant was given as the reason why a key meeting at the World Trade Organisation to debate the temporary lifting of intellectual property rights on vaccines was postponed indefinitely. Rozenn Le Saint reports on the anger of French activists at the lack of progress on what they see as a key issue in tacking the pandemic in poorer countries.

Repression and death: how French-made weapons are being used in global conflicts

By
A French-made Rafale fighter jet at Athens, September 5th 2021. © Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via AFP A French-made Rafale fighter jet at Athens, September 5th 2021. © Nicolas Economou / NurPhoto via AFP

Despite this country's proclaimed values and its international commitments, French-made weapons are being used to carry out repression and kill civilians in some of the worst conflicts on the planet, including in the Middle East. On the eve of President Emmanuel Macron's tour of Gulf states on 3rd and 4th December, in which further arms deals may be clinched, Mediapart lists some of the conflicts where exported French armaments are being deployed. Rachida El Azzouzi reports.

Presidential hopeful Michel Barnier gains ground with U-turn on EU and immigration

By
Michel Barnier at a campaign meeting in Montreuil-Juigné, north-west France, November 4th 2021. © Sebastien Salom-Gomis / AFP Michel Barnier at a campaign meeting in Montreuil-Juigné, north-west France, November 4th 2021. © Sebastien Salom-Gomis / AFP

Michel Barnier, a former EU commissioner and chief Brexit negotiator for the bloc, is one of five contenders to become the presidential candidate for France’s conservative Les Républicains party, which will choose the nominee in a vote this week. Barnier, 70, has moved from outsider to frontrunner, the result of a remarkable ideological U-turn; once a champion of European integration and a ‘humanist’ approach to immigration, which he regarded as a positive phenomenon, he now pledges to suspend further immigration and to make France independent of the EU's legal institutions. As Ilyes Ramdani reports, Barnier’s sudden shift rightwards has proved a strategic success, notably among the nationalist current in his party.

Up to seven million people in France rely on food banks, reports leading charity

By
At a food bank distribution point in Paris, May 31st 2021. © Fiora Garenzi / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP At a food bank distribution point in Paris, May 31st 2021. © Fiora Garenzi / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP

Up to seven million people in France, or around 10 percent of the population, had need of free handouts of food in 2020, a situation unprecedented in peacetime. That was just one of the shocking conclusions of the latest annual report on poverty in France published by one of the country’s principal social and humanitarian aid associations, the Secours Catholique. Faïza Zerouala reports.

The tragedy in the Channel, and the fears of more to come

By Sheerazad Chekaik-Chaila
A boat carrying the bodies of the dead arriving in Calais, November 24th 2021. © François Lo Presti / AFP A boat carrying the bodies of the dead arriving in Calais, November 24th 2021. © François Lo Presti / AFP

At least 27 people, including three children and seven women, one of who was pregnant, died in the Channel off the French port of Calais on Wednesday as they attempted to reach Britain in a clandestine journey by dinghy, according to the latest official toll. Sheerazad Chekaik-Chaila reports from Calais on the scenes as recovered bodies were brought to the quayside after the deadliest known tragedy involving migrants attempting to cross the Channel, and one which rescue services warn could be repeated with the arrival of treacherous winter conditions.

French scientist who championed anti-malaria drug for Covid-19 accused of falsifying test results

By
Le professeur Didier Raoult, IHU de Marseille. © Christophe Simon/ AFP Le professeur Didier Raoult, IHU de Marseille. © Christophe Simon/ AFP

Staff working under French microbiologist Didier Raoult, who last year attracted worldwide attention, and notably from Donald Trump, with his claims that the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was an effective medication for the prevention and treatment of Covid-19, have accused him of falsifying biological test results to support his assertions. Pascale Pascariello reports.

French far-right target journalists amid Macron's 'laissez-faire'

By and
Far-right polemicist Éric Zemmour points a gun at journalists during the Paris Milipol “homeland security” trade show, October 20th 2021. © Capture d’écran Twitter Lucas Burel Far-right polemicist Éric Zemmour points a gun at journalists during the Paris Milipol “homeland security” trade show, October 20th 2021. © Capture d’écran Twitter Lucas Burel

The threats against journalists, including one of our own, by far-right supporters in France are intolerable, write Mediapart co-editors Stéphane Alliès and Carine Fouteau in this op-ed article. It is high time for French President Emmanuel Macron, preoccupied with ensuring a second mandate in the presidential elections due next April, to take proper measure of the danger that is afoot.