Reports

  • Tunisia's fragile democracy shaken by revolt of the young

    By
    Demonstrators in Tunis earlier this month demanding an end to new austerity measures. © L. B. Demonstrators in Tunis earlier this month demanding an end to new austerity measures. © L. B.

    Austerity measures imposed in Tunisia at the start of the year in a new public finance law, and which follow a multi-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund, sparked demonstrations across the country earlier this month that were marked by violence. The protests were mostly mounted by the younger population, particularly affected by rising living costs and unemployment. The unrest has rocked the government, whose authoritarian reaction has prompted some observers to draw parallels with the events that led to the downfall in 2011 of Tunisia’s former dictator, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Lilia Blaise reports from the capital Tunis.

  • The mismanaged forests invading rural France

    By Aurore Staiger
    The village of Saint-Éloy-la-Glacière. © Nell van den Bosch The village of Saint-Éloy-la-Glacière. © Nell van den Bosch

    With the steady desertification of many areas of rural France has come a parallel invasion of forests reclaiming abandoned land. A combination of unsustainable and mismanaged forests, many hurriedly planted to provide timber for the post-war reconstruction, and the division of private forestland into myriads of tiny plots has resulted in disfigured landscapes and villages overrun by fir and spruce trees. The problem is nowhere more acute than in the Puy-de-Dôme département in central France, from where Aurore Staiger reports on the efforts of local officials to claim back the landscapes of the past and to reorganise woodland within a diverse and sustainable environment.

  • Eyes turn to the young in New Caledonia self-rule vote

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    Pro-independence militant Darewa Dianou: “They killed my father and, afterwards, they come and tell us that they will de-colonise us?" © ES Pro-independence militant Darewa Dianou: “They killed my father and, afterwards, they come and tell us that they will de-colonise us?" © ES

    The French Pacific territory of New Caledonia, which became a French colony in 1853, will hold a referendum next year on the proposition of self-rule. The referendum is the result of 30 years of a political process to ease tensions between pro-independence militants from the indigenous Kanak population, which make up about 45% of the archipelago’s 270,000 inhabitants, and ethnic Europeans. A key issue of the referendum will be the extent of involvement of the young generation, and in particular young Kanaks who are the worst affected by high unemployment and educational failure. Ellen Salvi reports from New Caledonia.

  • Angry French firefighters raise the alarm

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    The charred remains of a forest close to Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France, after wildfires in late July 2017. © Reuters The charred remains of a forest close to Bormes-les-Mimosas, southern France, after wildfires in late July 2017. © Reuters

    Huge forest fires in the north of the French Mediterranean island of Corsica this weekend destroyed more than 2,000 hectares (about 5,000 acres) of vegetation, as blazes continue to unfold in southern France amid exceptionally dry conditions. In late July, an estimated 7,500 hectares of countryside were devastated by wildfires, mostly in the Provence region, stretching the fire services to their limit. While President Emmanuel Macron and his prime minister, Edouard Philippe, have heaped praise on the efficiency and courage of France’s firefighters, many of the latter are angry that the country’s fire services are depleted by budget cuts, with insufficient and ageing equipment and a shortfall in their numbers. Elsa Sabado travelled to the Var département, the worst hit by the wildfires, to hear their complaints.

  • Palavas-les-Flots, a French seaside resort heading under water

    By

    Palavas-les-Flots is a popular seaside resort in the Languedoc region of southern France, one of several built up during a government-driven programme launched in the 1960s to develop tourism along western Mediterranean seaboard. But the town, like others in the region, now faces future disaster from the slow but certain rise in the level of the sea and coastal erosion exacerbated by mass tourism. Mediapart environment correspondent Jade Lindgaard reports from Palavas-les-Flots.

  • Fordlandia: utopian industrial dream in the Amazon

    By
    One of the old Fordlandia warehouses. © Thomas Cantaloube One of the old Fordlandia warehouses. © Thomas Cantaloube

    Ninety years ago the American car magnate Henry Ford created a town in the Amazon jungle in order to secure a supply of rubber for his vehicles' tyres. Today it is just a ghost town, another example of the hubris so commonly associated with this region of the world. Mediapart's Thomas Cantaloube reports from Brazil on whether the lessons of that failed venture have truly been learned.

  • Leftist Mélenchon wears velvet glove to reach French election knockout round

    By

    With just days to go before the first round of the French presidential elections, radical-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon is mounting a serious challenge to the frontrunners, with opinion polls this week placing him neck-and-neck against conservative candidate François Fillon, and ever closer to the far-right’s Marine Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron, the longstanding favourites now losing ground. Christophe Gueugneau followed the firebrand’s last major meeting this week, when Mélenchon, who wants to install a Sixth Republic with stronger powers for parliament, a system of regular referenda, and a renegotiation of EU treaties, attempted to reassure voters that he is not the anti-democratic revolutionary his detractors claim him to be.

  • Tales from the riverbank: how Kinshasa's once-mighty port on the Congo is dying

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    A view of Kinshasa on the River Congo, 2016. © Reuters A view of Kinshasa on the River Congo, 2016. © Reuters

    It was claimed – and hoped - that the River Congo would one day be the gateway to the country's prosperity. But with corruption rife, trade in decline and salaries going unpaid, the main port that serves the Democratic Republic of the Congo's capital city Kinshasa is today slowly rusting and dying. Pierre Benetti visited this once-thriving commercial hub and met those now trying to make ends meet along the banks of one of the world's largest rivers.

  • French rail workers refuse to join 'migrant hunt'

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    A migrant heading to France from Italy along railway tracks out of Ventimiglia. © LF A migrant heading to France from Italy along railway tracks out of Ventimiglia. © LF

    The Riviera coastal area in south-east France surrounding the border with Italy has become a major crossing point for migrants from Africa and the Middle East trying to reach northern Europe.  Despite a crackdown on the clandestine crossings by French and Italian police, many migrants continue to attempt the journey, either by by train or the perilous route of railway tracks, despite a series of fatal and serious accidents. French rail employees are increasingly under pressure from both their company and the police to help with the hunt for the migrants. Louise Fessard met with railwaymen who refuse to collaborate with operations that one described as resembling scenes from the WWII German occupation.

  • Implosion looms for French socialists as 'irreconcilable' presidential candidates head for knock-out vote

    Manuel Valls (left) and Benoît Hamon. © Reuters Manuel Valls (left) and Benoît Hamon. © Reuters

    The first round of the French Socialist Party’s primaries to choose its candidate for this spring’s presidential  elections saw leftist former education minister Benoît Hamon arrive in the lead, followed in second place by Manuel Valls, on the party’s Right and who last month resigned as prime minister to take part in the race. Hamon now has a significant chance of winning the second and final round between the two men to be held next Sunday. But whatever the result, the deeply divided Socialist Party faces implosion. Mathieu Magnaudeix and Christophe Gueugneau followed the two camps as the results unfolded during Sunday evening.