Migrant trafficking: the trial of ‘Mr Average’ caught smuggling dinghy and life jackets to the French coastMigrants setting off to cross the Channel to England from northern France on October 16th 2021. © Photo Marc Sanye / AFP
On August 22nd, a total of 1,295 migrants landed on the shores of southern England from France, a record daily figure, bringing the number of people who have made the same perilous crossing of the Channel so far this year to more than 22,500. Migrant smuggling gangs typically demand 3,000 euros per person for a place on the flimsy dinghies and key to the logistics of these networks are ‘mules’ who transport the boats and equipment, often from Germany, to the French coast. Camille Polloni travelled to the northern French city of Lille to follow the trial last week of one of them, whose lawyer said he was a “Mister average who works every day”.
Najib in Kabul in January 2022. © Photo Rachida El Azzouzi / Mediapart
It has been an economic and humanitarian disaster and human rights have come under sustained assault. A year after the Taliban retook control, Afghanistan continues to founder. For the LGBT+ community, too, the return to power of the Islamic fundamentalists has been a devastating blow. Earlier this year Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi and independent journalist Mortaza Behboudi travelled across Afghanistan to report on the situation there. At the time they spoke to 'Najib' – not his real name – to discover the reality of living as a gay man under Taliban rule and they have been in contact with him in recent days. Here is his story.
Former weavers Zohra Fournier and her sister Habiba Kechout © Photo Prisca Borrel pour Mediapart
In 1964 around 60 Harki families – the Algerians who had fought on France's side in the recently-ended Algerian War of Independence – were shunted off to a housing estate at Lodève in the south of France. The women from the families, all skilled weavers, were put to work in what was to become a small offshoot factory for the manufacture of high-quality rugs and carpets in Paris, and in a bid to revive the local textile industry. But as Prisca Borrel reports, the shadow of French colonial attitudes in Algeria was to loom over this initiative for years to come.
‘No to France’: anti-France demonstrators in the Chadian capital N’Djamena, May 14th 2022. © AFP
Anti-French sentiment is gaining ground across a number of West African countries, where the presence of the former colonial power, engaged in fighting armed jihadist insurgents across the Sahel, is challenged by growing Russian influence and popular anger against its history of support for strongman regimes. Protests against France’s military presence in the region have now spilled over into Chad, France’s key African ally, governed by a junta, where last month French nationals were targeted in the capital N’Djamena and petrol stations belonging to oil giant Total were ransacked. Rémi Carayol reports.
An undated French army photo of what it says are Russian mercenaries in northern Mali. © © Photo Armée française via AP / Sipa
Mercenaries from the Wagner Group, a Russian private paramilitary organisation with close ties to the Kremlin, have been linked to summary executions, forced disappearances and arbitrary arrests in Mali, where they are officially presented as “instructors” for the West African country’s army in its war against jihadist insurgents. While the Malian authorities deny that their Russian allies take part in direct combat, numerous eyewitness accounts tell a very different story. Paul Lorgerie reports from Mali.
In the streets of Paris. © Rachida El Azzouzi / Mediapart
For more than 30 years an obsession with the wearing of the headscarf has dominated public debate in France, and this presidential campaign has been no exception. The far-right candidate Marine Le Pen has even suggested she might ban its wearing in public places if she is elected head of state this Sunday, April 24th. Here Mediapart speaks to French Muslim women at the centre of this incessant and damaging debate, to hear their point of view. Rachida El Azzouzi and Faïza Zerouala report.
Malian troops on patrol in the centre of the West African country, February 2020. © Photo Michele Cattani / AFP
A Malian army unit accompanied by foreign mercenaries, who from witness accounts appear to be members of Russia's paramilitary Wagner Group, last week carried out summary executions of hundreds of people in the town of Moura, in the centre of Mali, in an operation officially described as a crackdown on jihadist insurgents, according to a report by NGO Human Rights Watch. Mediapart’s West Africa correspondent Rémi Carayol has spoken to survivors of the massacre and with various sources including local rights activists, who say the dead, variously estimated to number between 300 and 600, were mostly non-jihadist civilians.
Melinda in a garden near the northern French town of Hirson. © Illustration Sébastien Calvet pour Mediapart
For three generations Melinda and Dylan's family from northern France has voted steadfastly for the far-right Le Pen family at elections; first Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the Front National, and more recently his daughter Marine Le Pen who is president of its successor party Rassemblement National. However, the decision on who to vote for has now been thrown into question by the presence of another far-right candidate in April's French presidential election, the polemicist Éric Zemmour. The dilemma, one faced by many voters across the country, threatens to divide the family. Lucie Delaporte reports.
Last weekend marked the 60th anniversary of the Évian Accords which brought an end to the bloody Algerian War and paved the way for that country's independence from France. But for many ordinary Algerians their memory of that period is still dominated by the violence perpetrated at the time by the armed French group that was virulently opposed to granting Algeria's independence, the Organisation Armée Secrète or OAS. Nejma Brahim visited Oran on the north-west coast of Algeria where an OAS car bomb killed scores of people on February 28th 1962.
A monitoring room in the Hospices civils de Lyon paediatric A&E service. © CCC
The medical profession has been on a steep learning curve about the consequences, notably long-term, of infection by the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the Covid-19 disease it causes. But mystery remains over many aspects of the virus, and in particular about its effects, and true infection rates, among the very young. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports from the south-east French city of Lyon, where paediatricians with the country’s second-largest teaching hospital group recount their findings.