Reports

  • The surge of anti-Semitism in a Paris suburb once a model of co-existence

    By
     © LD © LD

    Earlier this month, the south-east Paris suburb of Créteil became a symbol of the sharp recent rise in anti-Semitic crimes committed in France when a young Jewish couple were the target of a vicious attack by three armed men who had come to rob them because, the assailants explained after their arrest, they were Jewish and therefore rich. The arrested men, who repeatedly raped the young woman victim during the robbery, are also suspected of being behind the beating-up of an elderly Jewish man at his home just weeks earlier. Lucie Delaporte reports from Créteil, where over several weeks, before and after the attack on the young couple, she interviewed members of the Jewish community who spoke candidly of their fears of anti-Semitic violence and why they believe it has become rampant in a suburb once regarded as a model of co-existence between religious and ethnic groups. 

  • The grave humanitarian crisis looming in Calais

    By Haydée Sabéran
     © Reuters © Reuters

    For a second week running, the desperate situation of migrants gathering in the northern French port of Calais in the hope of finding a clandestine passage to Britain has been making headlines on both sides of the Channel. This Tuesday, Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart appeared before a largely hostile British parliamentary committee on immigration and warned that the migrants were “ready to die” to reach Britain, which she criticised for focussing on greater security alone as a solution to the recent sharp rise in the numbers of those arriving in Calais from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, many of whom have fled war zones. Most, including women and children, live rough in makeshift camps in and around the town, where racist attacks against them are on the rise and where aid associations complain they can no longer cope with what one major French charity, the Secours Catholique, has warned is an imminent “humanitarian crisis of a size never known here”. Haydée Sabéran reports from Calais on the everyday human misery of the migrants, the despair of those involved in helping them, and lifts the lid on a myth, bolstered by events in the Channel port, that Britain is bearing the brunt of clandestine immigration to Europe.  

  • The mystery of the 'disappeared' of Gaza

    By
    Quartier de Chajaya, Gaza, septembre 2014 © Pierre Puchot Quartier de Chajaya, Gaza, septembre 2014 © Pierre Puchot

    The International Committee of the Red Cross calls it “a major problem”, while the United Nations says it has no idea of the numbers involved. The one thing that is certain is that at least hundreds of families in Gaza are still looking for relatives who have disappeared without trace following the 50-day Israeli offensive that began in July. For some, the answer may lie beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings that still litter the land. But there is also speculation that other missing Palestinians may be detained in Israel, or have met death as they fled by sea to Europe. Mediapart’s Middle East and North Africa affairs correspondent Pierre Puchot reports from Gaza on an enduring mystery that has become something of a taboo.

  • Temporary jobs and home helps – the future of France's former industrial workers

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    They were once proud industrial towns in the centre of France with thriving populations of 10,000 or more. But now areas such as Saint-Florentin, Tonnerre, Flogny-la-Chapelle in north Burgundy have seen their factories close and the number of inhabitants plummet. Instead of secure factory employment, the remaining workers in such towns now face moving from temporary job to temporary job or retraining for low-paid positions in the booming service sector looking after the elderly. Thomas Saint-Cricq reports from Saint-Florentin on the mood of a town that once was so short of industrial workers it had to scour the Mediterranean countries to find them.

  • French PM Valls wears velvet glove in plea for socialist unity

    By
    La Rochelle,dimanche. © Yannick Sanchez La Rochelle,dimanche. © Yannick Sanchez

    Amid deepening divisions over government economic policy, France’s ruling Socialist Party held its annual end-of-summer conference this weekend at the port of La Rochelle, in south-west France, culminating with a much awaited speech by prime Minister Manuel Valls. The long-planned venue coincided with the government reshuffle earlier this week which saw the exit from the cabinet of party left-wingers, and notably the arrival of a former banker, Emmanuel Macron, as economy minister in replacement of the outspoken anti-austerity leftist Arnaud Montebourg. Valls, who earlier this week told a conference of the French employers’ federation of his “love” of business, was promised a fiery reception from the rebel Left of his party at his Sunday appearance. From a tense conference hall in La Rochelle, Stéphane Alliès reports on the address by Valls, who defiantly told a small group of journalists afterwards: “A speech will not be sufficient [...] but I’m continuing, I’m not giving up on anything.”

  • In the Paris suburb where a Roma boy was lynched, sympathy is hard to find

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    A 16 year-old Roma boy beaten unconscious by a lynch mob on a sink estate in the Paris suburbs remained in a coma in a Paris hospital on Wednesday, when doctors said he was uncertain to survive the multiple injuries he sustained. Suffering notably from severe fractures to his skull, the teenager was found dumped unconscious in a supermarket trolley beside a main road after the mob of masked individuals kidnapped him from the makeshift camp (pictured) his family and other Roma were living in. Carine Fouteau reports from the run-down housing estate, where she found few people among its multi-ethnic population prepared to openly condemn the horrific events.

  • 'A family torn apart': staff at mail order firm La Redoute face uncertain future after buyout

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    Mail order giant La Redoute was once a financial cash cow, a brand known for its glossy catalogues, dominant industry position and massive workforce. Not any more. Its billionaire owner François-Henri Pinault from the Kering luxury goods group has finally managed to sell the ailing firm for a euro in a management buy-out. The controversial deal, which will lead to the shedding of more than a thousand jobs, has split unions, the workforce and the towns in northern France where the company is based. Even those workers who will keep their jobs have been warned they will have to work harder and get paid less. Rachida El Azzouzi talks to union representatives and workers, many of whom feel they have been betrayed by one of France's wealthiest men.

  • A daring mission to transform a lost French mining town into a green oasis

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    In the middle of a socialist heartland of north-east France, a Green party mayor is leading an audacious and lonely project to revitalise his former coal-mining town, where unemployment runs above the national average, with the creation of ecology-focussed companies and research centres, and the ecodesign renovation of its private and public buildings. But this isolated development programme, and its promise of future job creations, is a slow and far from complete process which faces a stern test in municipal elections to be held later this month, when the far-right Front National party is forecast to make significant gains. Jade Lindgaard reports from Loos-en-Gohelle.

  • The endangered and ageing socialist 'principality' of the Ariège

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    The Ariège département in southern France has a long history as a bastion of the Socialist Party. Over several decades, it has been the fiefdom of a clan of local politicians who are accused by opponents of ruling with a surprisingly monarchic set of practices: cronyism, the hoarding by a few of multiple posts of public office, political functions handed down to groomed successors, and intimidation of opponents.  In this, his third and final report from one of the poorest and least inhabited départements in France, Mathieu Magnaudeix investigates the inside workings of what might be likened to a socialist ‘principality’.

  • 'It's becoming like Chicago': the slide into despair and fear of a once-thriving small French town

    By
    La halle de Lavelanet, 11 h du matin, un jour de semaine. © M.M. La halle de Lavelanet, 11 h du matin, un jour de semaine. © M.M.

    The once-prosperous textile-producing town of Lavelanet, at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains close to the Spanish border, has for decades suffered a decline that was sharply accentuated by the recent economic crisis. With dwindling public services and with a quarter of the active population unemployed, it is a mirror image of many towns across France where the loss of industrial activity has sapped the local social fabric. In this, the second of three reports from the southern département of the Ariège, Mathieu Magnaudeix finds that in Lavelanet, amid a pervading collective sense of abandonment, concern over law and order and fear of 'outsiders' dominate the conversation.