Migrant crisis leads to growing violence on French overseas territory of Mayotte

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Having lost both legs when injured by a police boat while trying to get to Mayotte, Djassadi Farid now lives with the help of his father not far from the capital Mamoudzou. © JS Having lost both legs when injured by a police boat while trying to get to Mayotte, Djassadi Farid now lives with the help of his father not far from the capital Mamoudzou. © JS

Violence is reaching unprecedented levels in the French overseas département of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, prompted by the arrival of migrants from the neighbouring island nation of Comoros on makeshift boats. The result has been regular expulsions and repatriation of illegal migrants, clashes between the new arrivals and locals, and even riots. The situation has been exacerbated by the Covid crisis. Meanwhile the heavy-handed security response by the authorities in this small département has caused disquiet among local associations. Julien Sartre reports.

Key Sarkozy allies admit their errors over secret meetings with Libyan terror chief

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Key Sarkozy allies: Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, in February 2011, at the Ministry of the Interior in Paris. © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP Key Sarkozy allies: Claude Guéant and Brice Hortefeux, in February 2011, at the Ministry of the Interior in Paris. © LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP

Two of former president Nicolas Sarkozy's closest allies, Brice Hortefeux and Claude Guéant, have recently been placed under formal investigation for “criminal conspiracy” over claims that the ex-head of state's 2007 election was part-funded by the Libyan regime. Mediapart can now reveal that during questioning by judges both men admitted to lapses in judgement in meeting a spy chief from Muammar Gaddafi's regime who was wanted by the French justice system after being convicted of a terrorist attack. Yet they deny there was any deal for the Libyans to help fund the election campaign. Both men also loyally continue to protect their former boss, who himself faces claims of criminal conspiracy and corruption in the case. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

Anatomy of a disaster: how the start of France's vaccine campaign went badly wrong

Health minister Olivier Véran in Paris on January 4th 2021. © MARTIN BUREAU / AFP Health minister Olivier Véran in Paris on January 4th 2021. © MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

The initial slowness in the rollout of its vaccination campaign against Covid-19 has sparked a major political row in France. An investigation by Mediapart can now reveal that a failure of logistics prevented the Pfizer vaccine from being distributed more quickly. As with the earlier debacle over face masks, the Ministry of Health failed to react quickly enough to events and by the end of December had only managed to put in place 38 of the 113 special freezers needed to store the doses at low temperatures. At least three weeks were lost as a result, report Caroline Coq-Chodorge and Antton Rouget.

Price rises fuel new gold rush in Africa

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A gold mine in Nigeria in December 2019. © Kola Sulaimon/AFP A gold mine in Nigeria in December 2019. © Kola Sulaimon/AFP

Around a quarter of the world's gold production is in Africa and extraction of the precious metal has been been stepped up as its price on world markets has increased. But a significant proportion of this mining is carried out illegally by small-scale miners and much of the gold then finds its way into the hands of criminal and armed groups across the continent before being sold in the Middle East. Fanny Pigeaud reports on attempts to clean up the sector through stronger regulations.

The video evidence of how French police sabotaged a Paris demonstration

By Sébastien Bourdon, Camille Polloni, Antton Rouget and Antoine Schirer
Comment la police a saboté la manifestation du 12 décembre 2020. Enquête vidéo. © Mediapart

Mediapart has gathered and analysed hundreds of videos taken during a demonstration staged in Paris on December 12th 2020 against the French government's controversial “global security” law. Our investigation shows the unlawful nature of dozens of police charges carried out that day. It also documents the arbitrary arrests of demonstrators, baton blows given for no reason and the misleading statements made by interior minister Gérald Darmanin, especially over the nature and outcome of the arrests made. Sébastien Bourdon, Camille Polloni, Antton Rouget and Antoine Schirer investigate.

Why France has been so slow to start its Covid vaccination campaign

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Mauricette M., aged 78, becomes the first French person to get a vaccine on December 27th 2020 at the René-Muret hospital at Sevran near Paris. © Thomas Samson / AFP Mauricette M., aged 78, becomes the first French person to get a vaccine on December 27th 2020 at the René-Muret hospital at Sevran near Paris. © Thomas Samson / AFP

In his New Year's Eve address to the nation President Emmanuel Macron made clear his intention to speed up France's Covid vaccination programme, apparently stung by the country's slow performance compared with many others. Privately he is said to be angry at its “unwarranted slowness” and as a result the country is expected to step up its campaign this week. So far the number of vaccinations in France measures in the low hundreds compared with tens or hundreds of thousands - or even millions - in some other countries. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports on the public mistrust that lies behind France's sluggish start in vaccinating its population.

How France and Germany now view the Franco-Prussian War, 150 years on

War veterans minister Geneviève Darrieussecq during a commeoration of the Franco-Prussian War at Gravelotte in north-east France, August 16th 2020. © Capture d'écran Youtube War veterans minister Geneviève Darrieussecq during a commeoration of the Franco-Prussian War at Gravelotte in north-east France, August 16th 2020. © Capture d'écran Youtube

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 was a dramatic event in both French and German history. In France it led to regime change and, some argue, created a thirst for revenge among some French people in the lead up to World War I. Meanwhile the Prussian-led victory was accompanied by the unification of Germany, which was officially proclaimed on French soil in January 1871. Here Nicolas Chevassus-au-Louis examines first how France has chosen to commemorate the 150th anniversary of this deeply-destructive war, and then interviews a German academic about how the conflict has been largely ignored on the other side of the River Rhine.

The 'fake news' story about a French Muslim youth 'beaten up for celebrating Christmas'

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Quick to react to the story, interior minister Gérald Darmanin; seen here at the Élysée in June 2019. © Ludovic Marin / AFP Quick to react to the story, interior minister Gérald Darmanin; seen here at the Élysée in June 2019. © Ludovic Marin / AFP

A news story stating that a Muslim youth was beaten up on Boxing Day for having celebrated Christmas made the headlines in France. The only problem is that, on closer inspection, there is little evidence that the main claim in the story is true. This did not stop it being reported by many media, or prevent police trade unions and the interior minister Gérald Darmanin from expressing their condemnation of the alleged motives of the attack. David Perrotin and Ilyes Ramdani report on the making of a 'fake news' story.

A year of Covid-19: the stories from an apartment block in Meaux

By and Fanny Monier (illustration)
 © Fanny Monier © Fanny Monier

As 2020 draws to a close amid the continuing coronavirus pandemic, Mediapart knocked on the doors of the inhabitants of an apartment block in the town of Meaux, east of Paris, to ask them about their experiences living through a year unlike any other. The lurking threat of the virus was of course a constant angst, but for many, it is the social and economic consequences that have marked them, and which leave them fearful for the future. Mathilde Goanec reports (illustrations by Fanny Monier).  

EDF's curious departure from Taiwan

By Alice Hérait and Adrien Simorre
A ceremony marking EDF’s MoU for energy transition projects with Taiwanese energy company Taipower, January 2019. © Capture d'écran/YouTube A ceremony marking EDF’s MoU for energy transition projects with Taiwanese energy company Taipower, January 2019. © Capture d'écran/YouTube

French utilities giant EDF this year decided to close its offices in Taiwan, a democratically self-governed archipelago which China vigorously lays claim to as a province of its own. Curiously, the move comes just as Taiwan launches an ambitious programme to develop renewable energies, an important sector for EDF. It also follows a lucrative deal EDF has signed with China for the construction of offshore wind parks. The French group, meanwhile, denies any link between the two events. Alice Hérait and Adrien Simorre report from Taiwan.

Qatar 2022: probe into World Cup award intrigued by job for Platini’s son

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From left: Sébastien Bazin, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Nicolas Sarkozy and Michel Platini. © Simon Toupet / Mediapart. Photos AFP From left: Sébastien Bazin, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, Nicolas Sarkozy and Michel Platini. © Simon Toupet / Mediapart. Photos AFP

In an ongoing judicial investigation in France into suspected corruption surrounding the awarding of the 2022 football World Cup to Qatar, evidence seized at the Paris offices of US firm Colony Capital suggests a well-remunerated post handed to Laurent Platini, son of former football star and UEFA president Michel Platini, by Qatari sovereign fund QSI may have been linked to its purchase of French football club PSG. The probe is focused on a crucial lunch meeting at the Élysée Palace in 2010 hosted by then French president Nicolas Sarkozy, and attended among others by Michel Platini and the then crown prince of Qatar. Yann Philippin unravels a complex case involving heads of state, business, diplomacy and arrangements behind closed doors.

The faded scent of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution

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Un immense portrait de Mohamed Bouazizi à Sidi Bouzid le 27 octobre 2020. © Fethi Belaid/AFP Un immense portrait de Mohamed Bouazizi à Sidi Bouzid le 27 octobre 2020. © Fethi Belaid/AFP

It was ten years ago this month that the desperate act of self-immolation by street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi in the Tunisian town of Sidi Bouzid prompted not only the so-called “Jasmine Revolution” that would topple the regime of strongman president Ben Ali, but also set in train the “Arab Spring” revolt that spread across North Africa. Mediapart spoke to three young men from Sidi Bouzid who took part in the 2010 protests over Bouazizi's plight, and who reflect on what has become of their revolt that created hope of a new democratic future for their country. Lilia Blaise reports.

French modelling agent close to Jeffrey Epstein arrested

Jean-Luc Brunel in November 2017 in Paris. © Document Mediapart Jean-Luc Brunel in November 2017 in Paris. © Document Mediapart

French modelling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, who allegedly procured young women and minors for the late Jeffrey Epstein, was taken into police custody for questioning on Wednesday at Paris-Charles-de-Gaulle airport as he prepared to board a flight to Senegal. Brunel, 74, is a central figure in ongoing investigations into Epstein’s suspected sex-trafficking network in France, and is himself accused by several women of rape and sexual assault.

Why was a region of the French Alps suddenly hit by a Covid-19 ‘tsunami’?

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The Bacheux combe, in the Maurienne alpine valley of Savoie where Covid-19 took grip in November. © FBt/Mediapart The Bacheux combe, in the Maurienne alpine valley of Savoie where Covid-19 took grip in November. © FBt/Mediapart

When the coronavirus epidemic swept France this spring, the département (county) of Savoie, in the French Alps, was relatively unaffected. But last month, as the second wave of Covid-19 emerged, it became the country’s worst-hit by virus infections. Why? François Bonnet reports.

How French soldiers risk compromising their security on social networks

By , Sébastien Bourdon and Antoine Schirer
 © Mediapart © Mediapart

The French military has banned soldiers from posting sensitive information online. However, via a number of different apps Mediapart has managed to discover the profiles of more than 800 French troops deployed abroad and the profiles of more than 200 special forces soldiers. The military's general staff meanwhile is reluctant to discuss the precise measures that have been taken to contain a problem that could put the security of military personnel and their operations at risk, especially from terrorists who target French troops abroad. Justine Brabant and Sébastien Bourdon report.