Reports

  • The migrant crisis in Ventimiglia, the 'new Calais' on the French-Italian border

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    French interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve and his British counterpart Theresa May met in Calais on Thursday to announce new joint security measures to prevent thousands of migrants in the Channel port from reaching England. While the desperate situation in Calais has become the focus of headlines, the similar, less-reported plight of growing numbers of migrants blocked at France’s south-eastern border with Italy now threatens to erupt into a major crisis. Louise Fessard reports from the Italian border town of Ventimiglia.

  • Chinese prostitutes denounce Paris police 'intimidation' and 'humiliation'

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    Paris police in May began a heavy-handed crackdown on the growing numbers of Chinese prostitutes working the streets of Belleville, a multi-ethnic, working-class neighbourhood in the north of the capital. The local authorities say the operation was to prevent Belleville from becoming the city’s centre of “open air prostitution”, but the sex workers complain of violent and humiliating behaviour by police officers that has left them exposed to greater dangers. Julien Sartre reports.

  • The lonely plight of Syrian migrants in Paris

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    As the bloody civil war in their country continues, families fleeing Syria have set up a makeshift camp at Saint-Ouen in the north of Paris. Many of them feel trapped, unsure how to complete their arduous journey towards a safe haven, uncertain about whether to claim asylum in France or move on to another European country. The authorities, meanwhile, do the bare minimum to help this small group of Syrians, apparently hoping that they will simply move on elsewhere. Mediapart's Carine Fouteau went to meet the inhabitants of this mini-camp who are living next to the French capital's main ring road.

  • French Socialist Party congress: PM Valls keeps re-election roadmap a 'mystery'

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    Manuel Valls au congrès du PS samedi 6 juin © Reuters Manuel Valls au congrès du PS samedi 6 juin © Reuters

    The ruling French Socialist Party held its national congress this weekend, called to define the party’s broad policy lines and to designate its leadership structures at local and national level. The three-day event, which ended on Sunday evening, also marks the third anniversary of François Hollande’s presidency. Against a backdrop of record and increasing unemployment, the party desperately needs new impetus as it faces an uphill struggle over the next two years to win back its disaffected electorate in presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2017. But while Prime Minister Manuel Valls was given a warm public display of support by party members, he offered no clear programme for the remainder of his government’s time in office during a skilfully crafted speech aimed at appeasing party divisions. Lénaïg Bredoux reports from the congress in the west-central town of Poitiers.

  • US flight catering staff turn up heat on Air France over working conditions

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    Morena Henriquez packs airline meals for more than 10 hours a day in a refrigerated area. Chef Rafael León has to provide his own knives and sometimes squats on the floor to prepare the in-flight meals because he has no work surface. Both earn minimal wages. These are not workers in a developing country but staff at a Los Angeles-based associate of airline giant Air France-KLM. They flew to Paris recently to confront the airline's shareholders over their miserable working conditions. And now its management has finally agreed to intervene on their behalf with its American partner. Dan Israel reports on the fight against working conditions that one French trade union official has described as “modern-day slavery”.

  • The agony of France’s medical deserts

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    Many of France’s rural and semi-rural regions have for years been blighted by the gradual but steady decline in the numbers of local doctors, notably general practitioners. The problem is now so acute in some areas that it is virtually impossible for patients, including the seriously ill, to receive proper medical treatment. That is the case in the Seine-et-Marne département (county) which stretches south-east from Paris. Caroline Coq-Chodorge travelled to Souppes-sur-Loing, a town with a population of 6,000 that sits on the southern edge of the département, where the crisis is typical of the medical ‘desertification’ witnessed across France. Facing the imminent loss of all remaining medical professionals, the municipal authorities are planning to fork out 1 million euros in a desperate attempt to attract new doctors, even though healthcare is not their brief.

  • The search for 'secularism' in France's inner cities

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    Dessin d'enfants à l'école maternelle © LD Dessin d'enfants à l'école maternelle © LD

    In its response to the terror attacks in Paris in January the French government emphasised the importance of schools and the central role of secularism in fighting intolerance and extremism. Mediapart recently visited schools in the north of the French city of Amiens, an area which has recently seen riots and where the Moroccan-born education minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem herself grew up and was educated. Here the issue of secularism divides teachers, parents and local help groups alike. “I have the impression that, faced with this debate, everyone is a bit lost,” says one teacher. Mediapart's education correspondent Lucie Delaporte reports from the city.

  • Aboard a Mediterranean migrant patrol ship, and the ghost freighter that got away

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    More than 300 migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a clandestine convoy from Libya to Italy were reported drowned this week when their boats overturned off Lampedusa, just days after 29 other seaborne migrants were discovered dead from hypothermia close to the Italian coast. The tragedies follow the narrow rescues in December and January of more than 1,200 Syrian migrants from two rusting ‘ghost’ freighters left abandoned by people smugglers to their fate. Earlier this month, Mediapart’s Carine Fouteau joined the Týr, an Icelandic coastguard ship patrolling the central Mediterranean as part of an operation mounted by the EU border-policing agency Frontex. She heard the harrowing experiences of the Týr’s proud crew who have already rescued 2,000 migrants in difficulty, and questioned Frontex officials about what is an increasingly confused mission. But she begins this report with the dramatic events she witnessed aboard the Týr, when a drifting, apparently crewless rusting freighter suspected of carrying hundreds of migrants in its hold was left to its fate overnight in strong seas - because no-one had sent out an SOS. 

  • France terror attacks prompt historic mass protest marches

     © Graham Tearse © Graham Tearse

    Four days after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo magazine, followed by the murders of two police officers and two bloody sieges which saw four people executed in a Jewish supermarket, the people of France have taken to the streets in record numbers - 3.7 million - in a day of solidarity with the 17 victims of the attacks. For the first time in a quarter of a century the French president marched with the people as François Hollande joined more than 40 world leaders on the streets of Paris which he said had become the “capital of the world” for the day. But the most moving part of the massive march between two major squares in Paris, the place de la République and the place de la Nation, part of the biggest public gatherings seen in France since the Liberation in 1944, was the volume of ordinary citizens who turned out to show support for the victims' families and their determination that people's freedoms should not be undermined by terrorists. Mediapart reports on the turnout in words and pictures (updated Monday).

  • The international drugs trade returns to post-war Mali

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    Since the retreat of jihadist forces from northern Mali, and the winding down this year of the French military campaign that forced them out of the area, drugs trafficking has regained its lucrative path across the Sahel region, en route to Europe. Thomas Cantaloube reports from Mali on how the drugs trade has become a major cause of corruption in both the former French colony and the wider region of West Africa, where the transit of drugs is now joined by a dangerous and growing new phenomena, that of drug consumption.