Posts Tagged ‘French’

Macron faces emboldened nationalists on tricky Corsica visit

February 6, 2018


Image captionThousands of Corsicans protested in Ajaccio to back linguistic recognition and greater devolution

Thousands of Corsicans have held a rally to call for greater autonomy from France.

French President Emmanuel Macron is due in Corsica on Tuesday for the start of a delicate two-day visit rich in symbolism, just days after thousands of Corsican nationalists staged a rally demanding greater freedom for the island.

Macron’s visit coincides with the 20th anniversary of the assassination of France’s top official in Corsica, Prefect Claude Erignac, who was shot dead by a pro-independence militant on February 6, 1998.

The French president will attend a ceremony honouring the slain prefect, before holding highly sensitive talks with the leaders of the island’s regional administration.

Corsican nationalists, who have governed the picturesque island of 330,000 people for the past two years, achieved their best-ever performance in December’s regional election, trouncing Macron’s party.

© Pascal Pochard-Casabianca, AFP | Thousands marched through the streets of Ajaccio, the Corsican capital, at the weekend demanding greater autonomy from the Mediterranean island.

The Pè a Corsica (For Corsica) alliance won two-thirds of the seats in a new regional assembly, a result which it argued gave it a strong mandate to demand more autonomy from the highly centralised French state.

Macron has previously said he is open to dialogue but ruled out making any changes to the constitution, a stance that effectively draws a red line on the nationalists’ flagship demand that the Corsican language be given official status.

Other demands include repatriating Corsican prisoners who are currently jailed on the mainland and changing housing rules so that only people who have been Corsican residents for five years can buy property on the “island of beauty”.


In a show of strength, the nationalist camp staged a peaceful march on Saturday in the island’s capital, Ajaccio, to press its demands. Organisers said 25,000 people attended the rally, while officials gave a far lower estimate.

“This is a mobilisation without precedent in recent years. It’s huge,” said Gilles Simeoni, the head of the regional administration, who unlike some of his coalition partners supports autonomy rather than full independence.

The march opened with young girls wearing Corsican flag’s over their shoulders, as the crowd chanted “long live the independence struggle” and “killer French state”, in Corsican.

A sign on the lead car in the protest read “Amnistia”, calling for amnesty for Corsican prisoners jailed for pro-independence violence.

Corsica, famed for being the birthplace of Napoleon, was once a hotbed of violent anti-French militancy. For decades militants waged a violent “national liberation” campaign, but in 2014 they announced a ceasefire.

Speaking to RTL radio on Monday, Simeoni said Macron’s visit signalled a “historic window of opportunity to end the cycle of conflict.”

However, he warned: “If the road to dialogue remains closed we would be in a crisis situation and a political dead-end.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)



Tuesday’s visit will mark the 20th anniversary of the targeted killing of France’s top official on the island, Claude Érignac, during a wave of violence orchestrated by the National Liberation Front of Corsica (FLNC),

The FLNC, a separatist militant group, declared a ceasefire in 2014.

People carry backpacks with signs reading "#democracy" during a demonstration on February 3, 2018 in AjaccioImage copyrightAFP
Image captionSome demonstrators wore backpacks with signs reading “#democracy”

The local authorities said about 6,000 demonstrators were at Saturday’s protest in the capital Ajaccio.

But the protest’s organisers put the figure at 25,000.

People gather in DeGaulle plaza in Ajaccio, on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica.Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe protest aimed to put pressure on Mr Macron to give the island greater autonomy

Corsican nationalists have been emboldened by a resounding win in December’s elections.

Although a ceasefire has been in place since 2014, Corsica’s current leader, Gilles Simeoni – a moderate nationalist – issued a warning earlier this week in an interview with Reuters that Paris would be “playing with fire” if it did not engage with Corsica’s issues.

Map of Corsica

French government backs budget minister accused of rape — in the midst of a global mania of accounts of sexual harassment and rape unleashed by the Harvey Weinstein affair

January 29, 2018



© Patrick Kovarik, AFP | French Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin at the National Assembly in Paris on November 29, 2017.


Latest update : 2018-01-29

Members of the French government rallied around Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin, who has been accused of rape in a case dating back nearly a decade.

On Saturday, the Paris prosecutor’s office confirmed that it had reopened an investigation into allegations Darmanin, 35, pressured a woman into sex in return for promising to help clear her name in a legal dispute.

The case comes in the midst of a global outpouring of accounts of sexual harassment and rape unleashed by the Harvey Weinstein affair.

Sophie Spatz, a 46-year-old former escort, made a first complaint against Darmanin in mid-2017 but the investigation was closed soon after when she failed to attend questioning by the police.

In mid-January 2018, she renewed her complaint, triggering a new preliminary probe.

Darmanin’s lawyers have accused her of a “crude attempt to harm” the minister’s reputation and said Darmanin was suiting her for slander.

On Sunday, Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet rejected suggestions that Darmanin should resign, noting that he had not been charged with any crime.

Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert also took up Darmanin’s defence, saying the principle of innocent until proven guilty should apply to his cabinet colleague, “like any other citizen”.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Saturday that Darmanin still had his “full confidence”.

‘All false’

Darmanin, a former right-wing MP who jumped ship to Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move party last year, is one of the best performers in the president’s largely inexperienced team.

Spatz approached him in 2009 to seek his help in trying to have a suspended sentence lifted for blackmail involving a former boyfriend.

Le Monde quoted her as telling police that when she approached Darmanin for help he placed a hand on hers and told her: “You too must help me” and that she felt pressured into sex.

In an interview with France Info radio on January 15, Darmanin denied the allegations, saying he was “a nobody” at the time of the alleged rape and that it was “all false”.

He admitted however to having a reputation for being a persistent flirt and to “sending a few persistent SMSes”.

Socialist senator and former minister for families Laurence Rossignol was one of the few opposition politicians to comment on the affair.

“We must keep two things in mind: the respect for presumption of innocence on the one hand and respect for the word of the complainant on the other,” she said.

Four feminists on Sunday launched a petition calling on the prime minister to sack Darmanin.

Britain will secure a bespoke trade deal after Brexit, French President Emmanuel Macron suggests — Theresa May and Macron Post “Selfie” of The Year

January 20, 2018

Theresa May selfie with Macron posted by her on Twitter @theresa_may

By Telegraph Reporters

Emmanuel Macron has said Britain will secure a bespoke trade deal but left the door open to Brexit being reversed.

The French President said he would “love” to welcome the UK back into the European Union and insisted the group of member states will become 27 “unhappily”.

Mr Macron said on Thursday that France would not give in to British demands for the financial services sector to be covered by a Brexit trade deal after talks with Theresa May.

In an interview recorded for BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, he said there is a “a competition between different countries” to attract financial services companies in the future and that France wanted “to attract the maximum activity”.

Asked if it was inevitable that Britain would leave, he replied: “I mean, it’s on your own. It depends on you. I mean, I do respect this vote, I do regret this vote, and I would love to welcome you again.”

Mr Macron said full access for financial services to the single market “is not feasible”.

Pressed on whether there would be a bespoke special solution for Britain, he said: “Sure, but… this special way should be consistent with the preservation of the single market and our collective interests.

“And you should understand that you cannot, by definition, have the full access to the single market if you don’t tick the box.”

He added: “So it’s something perhaps between this full access and a trade agreement.”

The interview follows talks between Mr Macron and Mrs May this week, during the French president’s first official trip to the UK.

It expands on comments in which Mr Macron made it clear to Mrs May that the UK will have to pay if it wants access to the EU’s financial services market after Brexit.  On Wednesday he warned that wanting full access to the single market without accepting freedom of movement amounted to “hypocrisy”.

During this week’s visit, Mrs May and Mr Macron agreed a new treaty on border controls, which Mr Macron christened the Sandhurst Treaty after the location of the summit at the Royal Military Academy in Berkshire.

Mr Macron also formally agreed to the loan of the Bayeux Tapestry to Britain in around five years’ time, subject to curators agreeing that it can be safely transported.

Includes videos:

Police raid France’s Lactalis after baby milk scandal — As many as 83 coutries sent contaminated milk — recall not properly executed

January 17, 2018


© AFP | The raids come after Paris investigators opened a preliminary inquiry on December 2 for suspected fraud as well as endangering health by failing to properly execute the recall.

LAVAL (FRANCE) (AFP) – French police raided the headquarters of dairy giant Lactalis on Wednesday over a baby milk salmonella scare that has sickened dozens of children and led to a major international recall.Dozens of police were searching the company’s offices in Laval, western France, as well as its factory in nearby Craon which was the source of the tainted milk.

Lactalis has recalled baby milk from 83 countries, with anger growing after it emerged that the company’s own tests had discovered salmonella at the Craon site in August and November.

The company did not report the findings and it says it had no legal obligation to do so because it had not detected salmonella in its products.

The contamination, found in a dehydration tower used to reduce milk, was not revealed to the public until December.

At least 37 babies in France are known to have fallen sick and another in Spain, while Greece has also seen one unconfirmed case.

A source close to the probe said magistrates and 70 police were raiding Lactalis sites on Wednesday.

Officers were guarding the factory doors, an AFP photographer said, with dozens of police vehicles on site.

At the company headquarters, investigators from public health agency OCLAESP and consumer protection agency DGCCRF were searching the premises alongside police.

The recall affects 12 million boxes of powdered baby milk under brands including Picot, Milumel and Celia.

The raids come after Paris investigators opened a preliminary inquiry on December 2 for suspected fraud as well as endangering health by failing to properly execute the recall.

Lactalis CEO Emmanuel Besnier at the weekend offered to compensate the affected families.

But an association of victims’ families, which met with the government on Monday, has rejected the offer, accusing Lactalis of trying to buy their silence.

Of the babies taken ill in France, 18 were hospitalised. All are now recovering well, according to the public health agency.

Hundreds of families have filed lawsuits against the company.

Besnier on Sunday denied claims that Lactalis had lied about the dates and amount of stock affected by the salmonella outbreak.

“At no point was there any intention of hiding things,” he told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper — his first interview in nearly 20 years as head of the family-controlled company.

Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said Sunday the company’s explanations were insufficient.

“When you have a case of milk on the market which has clearly caused complicated health problems for children, it means at some point there was negligence,” Griveaux said.


Emmanuel Macron visits Calais ahead of immigration talks

January 16, 2018

President Emmanuel Macron has visited the northern town of Calais, where hundreds of migrants have gathered in hopes of making it to Britain. The visit comes ahead of immigration crisis talks with the UK’s Theresa May.

Calais Räumung (picture-alliance/AP Photo/T. Camus)

French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday vowed that France would not allow another migrant camp like the infamous “Jungle” to develop in Calais, during a visit to the French town and ferry port, which is an area at the center of France’s immigration crisis.

“In no case will we allow another ‘Jungle’ here,” he said in a speech in the northern city, as his government puts pressure on Britain to contribute more to dealing with migrants seeking to cross the Channel.

Macron met with migrants living in Calais and the NGOs working with them, as well as local officials, residents and security force members calling for tougher laws to prevent the emergence of another “Jungle.”

Read more: Calais migrants to be dispersed across France

The former Socialist government bulldozed the “Jungle,” — a makeshift camp in Calais — more than a year ago and moved its more than 7,000 occupants to shelters nationwide, but hundreds of migrants continue to gather in the area in hopes of making it to Britain.

Read more: Is Emmanuel Macron Europe’s new Angela Merkel?

The meeting in Calais comes ahead of a French-British summit on Thursday, which will see Macron meet with British Prime Minister Theresa May, where he will ask that Britain change the 2003 Tourquet Accords and do more to help ease the migrant burden caused partly by the agreement.

The 2003 Touquet Accords moved the British border to Calais and have left France with the problem of dealing with migrants refused entry into Britain.

Some in France see the situation in Calais as one of Britain’s making, given that the most of the migrants who descend on the area are desperate to reach England.

The police in Calais routinely break up the camps of migrants who descend on the region to try and stow away on trucks crossing the Channel to Britain, a favorite destination for Afghans and east Africans.

100,000 asylum claims

France received a record 100,000 asylum claims in 2017, making it one of Europe’s most sought-after destinations.

Read more: Southern EU countries pledge to improve common migration policy

During the 2017 election, Macron campaigned for open borders and promised to speed up the waiting times for asylum applications, but he also said he would clamp down on expulsions of people who remained in France after being turned down for refugee status.

Read more: Britain to blame for Calais, says German group

NGOs, trade unions and left-wing parties take a different view, often accusing him of wielding an iron fist in a velvet glove.

In December, the Interior Minister Gerard Collomb’s ordering of ID checks in emergency shelters sparked fears of a witch hunt against failed asylum seekers, and further criticism from migrant support groups.

France to demand ‘concrete measures’ from UK

The president’s trip is a foretaste of a tough new immigration and asylum bill to be presented to the French Cabinet in February.

Read more: Calais refugees adapt to life in the UK

In an interview with Franch Le Parisien newspaper published Sunday, Collomb said he would push for changes to the 2003 Le Touquet accords allowing British border controls on French territory.

Collomb said France would specifically demand “concrete measures” from Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on taking in more unaccompanied minors seeking to join relatives or friends across the water, and on contributing more to the costs of policing the border.

Read more: Calais mayor outlaws food handouts for migrants

Natacha Bouchart, the right-wing mayor of Calais, told BFM television on Monday that the local population was “tired” of the situation and expected a lot from the president’s visit.

With 400 to 700 migrants there today, the situation is in many ways worse, said Francois Guennoc of Auberge des Migrants, a leading migrant aid group.

“It’s catastrophic,” he said, both materially and mentally because migrants have no right to pitch tents, to ensure no new camps spring up.

law/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters)

U.S., French Officials Question Apple Over iPhone Battery Slowdowns

January 10, 2018

Sen. John Thune writes letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook; Paris prosecutor’s office opens investigation

Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee.
Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) is chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. PHOTO: JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS

Apple Inc. AAPL -0.01% is facing new questions from government officials in the U.S. and France about its handling of battery-related performance issues on iPhones, a sign that controversy over the problem continues despite the technology giant’s apology last month.

On Tuesday, Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, pressed Apple for answers to a series of questions about how the company decided to throttle back iPhone processing performance in phones with older batteries.

In a letter to Chief Executive Tim Cook, a copy of which was viewed by The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Thune asked how Apple has tracked customer complaints of processing performance and if Apple has explored offering rebates to customers who paid full price for a battery replacement before the company offered discounted rates last month.

In France, the Paris prosecutor’s office said it has opened an investigation into Apple for potential deception and “programmed obsolescence.” The investigation—which could lead to preliminary charges or be dropped—will be run by the consumer protection agency that falls under the country’s finance ministry, a spokesman for the office said Tuesday.

Apple has been under fire since mid-December from customers and analysts saying they had noticed a slowdown in the performance of older iPhones.

Apple then acknowledged publicly that its software slowed performance in iPhones as batteries aged to prevent the devices from automatically powering off.

The company in late December said that it wouldn’t do anything to harm its customers’ experience or shorten the life of its products, but it apologized for its handling of the issue and slashed the price of an iPhone battery replacement to $29 from $79, hoping to win back customer goodwill.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

“Apple’s proposed solutions have prompted additional criticism from some customers, particularly its decision not to provide free replacement batteries,” wrote Mr. Thune, who requested answers by Jan. 23.

The French investigation stems from a complaint filed in December by a French consumer group named Stop Programmed Obsolescence, or the French abbreviation HOP. The group alleged that Apple pressures customers to buy new phones by timing the release of new models with operating system upgrades that cause older ones to perform less well.

Apple says its decision to throttle performance back on some phones was necessary because batteries naturally lose capacity over time, and without its software fix, iPhones with older batteries can suddenly shut down when struggling to meet power demands. The throttling feature has been implemented across iPhone 6, 6s, SE and 7 models, the company says.

Government scrutiny of the practice comes amid complaints from some customers about the rollout of Apple’s battery-replacement plan. Some customers have reported having to wait a week to schedule an appointment, while others voiced frustration that they showed up at an Apple Store for a scheduled replacement only to be told that the store was out of batteries.

At an Orlando-area store, John Terry, 53, arrived for a battery-replacement appointment and was told he would get an email when Apple had an iPhone 6 battery and he could return for a replacement.

“I would think they should have anticipated the demand they have had given the backlash, and they weren’t prepared for it,” said Mr. Terry, a marketing consultant.

Apple has said that winning back customers’ trust is paramount, and it has created a website advising people to call Apple support before visiting a store for a battery replacement.

Analysts say the battery issues could have a significant financial impact for Apple. Barclay’s said in a note last week that Apple could sell 16 million fewer iPhones this year, and lose $10.29 billion in revenue, because of customers choosing to replace batteries instead of their iPhones.

Mr. Terry said he plans to do that. He said if his phone can get faster for $30 that is much better than spending $1,000 on the new iPhone X.

“Not that I don’t want the new phone anyway, but I’m not rushing out to do it,” Mr. Terry said.

Write to Tripp Mickle at and John D. McKinnon at

Appeared in the January 10, 2018, print edition as ‘Senator Questions Apple on Battery Issue in iPhones.’

China’s new ‘Silk Road’ cannot be one-way, France’s Macron says

January 8, 2018

XIAN, China (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday China and Europe should work together on Beijing’s “Belt and Road” initiative, a project aiming to build a modern-day “Silk Road” he said could not be “one-way”.

Image may contain: 1 person, standing

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech at the Daming Palace in Xian, Shaanxi province, China, January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

“The ancient Silk Roads were never only Chinese,” Macron told an audience of academics, students and businessmen in Xian, an eastern departure point of the ancient Silk Road.

“By definition, these roads can only be shared. If they are roads, they cannot be one-way,” he said.

Unveiled in 2013, the Belt and Road project is aimed at connecting China by land and sea to Southeast Asia, Pakistan and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Xi pledged $124 billion for the plan at a summit in May but it has faced suspicion in Western capitals that it is intended more to assert Chinese influence than Beijing’s professed desire to spread prosperity.

Reporting by Michel Rose; Editing by Paul Tait

French President Macron highlights Niger terror fight

December 23, 2017


President Emmanuel Macron has visited French counterterrorism troops based in Niger, who are combating extremists in the Sahel. He stressed the need for development programs to tackle the root causes of extremism.

President Macron with troops at the Niamey base

A gala dinner for 700 was prepared by the presidential chef from the Elysee Palace in Paris at the base for French troops near Niger’s capital, Niamey, on Friday night.

With 500 men, Mirage 2000 fighter jets and drones, the French base is the air hub for the Barkhane force, which operates across five countries and former colonies as a “pillar of counterterrorism in the Sahel region.” It has particular focus on extremists in Mali, Chad and Niger.

A fine Christmas dinner with produce brought from France set the scene for Macron to tell the troops that their mission would be continued with the “aim of winning clear and important victories against the enemy.”

French troops on patrolFrench troops on patrol

“I am proud of you, France is proud of you…. France mourns its dead, takes care of its injured (and) is proud of its children who are fighting to protect it,” he said. Macron was accompanied by the chief of staff of the armed forces, General Francois Lecointre, who replaced General Pierre de Villiers after  Villiers had abruptly resigned earlier in the year over cuts in the military budget.

Security for the future

“I trust you,” Macron told the troops, particularly for the mission in the Sahel, which he called “a priority” because “this is where our security is played out, the future for part of the African continent.”

“We must not leave the Sahel to terrorist organizations,” Macron added. “We cannot cede to them the slightest piece of territory.”

He said the ongoing Barkhane mission had halted jihadis on various fronts and the extremists were “no longer capable of undermining a state.”

However, he said the mission would continue through 2018 to deal with the scattered and mobile bands of extremists across the desert region.

In a series of statements via Twitter, Macron praised the troops and said there was a need for long-term development in the region in order to tackle the root causes of conflicts.

Vous menez une action militaire indispensable mais il faut aussi une action de développement pour agir dans la durée et répondre aux causes profondes des conflits.

Education for girls would be a priority for the French development program, according to the presidential office.

“The root cause of the problem is not terrorism. It is underdevelopment, trafficking and the impact of population growth” that need to be resolved, said the deputy commander of Barkhane, Colonel Colcombel.

Germany’s Bundeswehr has supported a UN mission in Mali for nearly four years.

jm/sms (AFP, dpa)

Les Patriotes: How Le Pen’s ex-protégé hopes to win over French far right

December 18, 2017


© Lionel Bonaventure, AFP | Florian Philippot, the president of French nationalist party Les Patriotes, inaugurates his party’s headquarters in northern Paris on December 18, 2017

Text by Louise NORDSTROM 

Latest update : 2017-12-18

For years, Florian Philippot was Marine Le Pen’s protégé, helping her rebrand France’s hardline National Front into a populist party. But bitter infighting over Europe saw him cut all ties and launch his own far-right alternative: Les Patriotes.

On Monday morning, 36-year-old Philippot – Le Pen’s former vice president and most trusted adviser – inaugurated the headquarters of Les Patriotes (The Patriots), in Saint-Ouen, in northern Paris. The move comes just three months after Philippot claims he was more or less pushed out of the National Front (FN) after bitter disputes with Le Pen over whether the party ought to return to its more hardline, anti-immigrant past, or continue to push its more populist direction, focusing instead on economic nationalism.


Blamed for election loss

But what started out as an in-party movement after Le Pen began to waver on the party’s anti-euro stance during last spring’s presidential election, has in six short months morphed into a political party that now hopes to take a big bite out of Le Pen’s electorate, vowing to do “The best for France,” by not only quitting the euro, but also the European Union in a so-called “Frexit”. Critics, however, say that he is about to commit political suicide, presenting nothing but a watered-down version of the FN’s political agenda on most other, non-EU-related issues.

Philippot, whose anti-euro sentiment had long irritated many FN members and which bore the brunt of the blame for Le Pen’s bitter loss to centrist Emmanuel Macron in the presidential run-off, announced his departure from the FN in September after being stripped of his role as the party’s chief of strategy and communication following his refusal to step down from the Les Patriotes movement. “I have no desire to be ridiculed, and I have no desire to do nothing. And so, of course, I’m leaving the National Front,” he announced on French broadcaster France 2, shortly after which he then took the first steps towards transforming his movement into a political party.

His former mentor, Le Pen, barely smirked at his ambitions, telling France’s parliamentary channel LCP later the same day that: “All those who have taken that route have led a solitary adventure and ended up disappearing… I think I can say that this will be the case also for Florian.”


In October, Philippot, who still holds a seat in the European Parliament, unveiled a 26-point political charter for his new party, with a “Frexit” and pulling out of the European single currency as being the No. 1 priorities. The party also advocates referendums by popular initiative, removing the upper-house Senate and “heavily reducing” immigration. Despite using a lighter anti-immigration rhetoric than the FN, Sylvain Crépon, a sociologist and French far-right expert at the Université de Tours, said there is little difference between the two parties.

“The only real difference between Les Patriotes and the FN is that Les Patriotes want out of the euro and the EU, and the FN doesn’t,” Crépon told FRANCE 24. “Of course, Les Patriotes don’t want to be considered as being far right; no far right or extreme right party does, but according to me they are still very close to being that.”

To date, the party has around 6,000 members, many of them having defected from the FN for much the same reasons as Philippot himself. But Crépon said he doesn’t believe that is enough to pose any real threat to the FN or its electorate.

“I think the problem with Philippot is that he’s already a well-known figure, since he’s already spent many years with the FN. He’s in no way a new face, like Macron was, and so even if he tries to present his party [platform] as an ‘FN light’, most of those who chose FN in the first place did so for its nationalist, anti-immigrant platform, not because of any anti-EU rhetoric,” Crépon said, adding: “And so what they [the far-right voters] want is the original, not a new version.”

“It’s going to be complicated for Les Patriotes to be in competition with the FN because it is already so established. Le Pen is well-known and popular, with many years of experience, and so I don’t see how Les Patriotes could present themselves as a new and effective extreme right.”

Philippot, meanwhile, has spent the past few months touring France to drum up support in some of France’s far-right heartlands. His party is due to hold its first party congress in February or March next year, but the first real test is considered to be the European parliamentary elections in 2019.

France to take refugees rescued from Libya who ‘need protection’

November 20, 2017



© FRANCE 24 screen grab


Latest update : 2017-11-20

France will be the first to welcome African refugees evacuated from Libya to Niger by the United Nations refugee agency, French officials announced Monday.

Advertisement (1 of 1): -1:-2


After experiencing appalling living conditions at camps in the north African country, the refugees were taken to Niger on November 11 by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), where they have been looked after.

The 25 Eritreans, Ethiopians and Sudanese including 15 women and four children should reach France “at the latest in January,” the interior ministry said.

Libya has long been a major transit hub for migrants trying to reach Europe, and many of them have fallen prey to serious abuse at the hands of traffickers and others.

US television network CNN aired footage last week of an apparent live auction where black men are presented to buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400 (340 euros).

And the European Union’s policy of helping Libyan authorities intercept migrants crossing the Mediterranean and returning them to “horrific” detention has been branded “inhuman” by UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.

Pascal Brice, the director general of OFPRA (French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons) told AFP that France will take in the migrants following a visit to Niger’s capital Niamey.

He said the migrants who were selected because they need protection will be given refugee status “very quickly” when they arrive in France.

“It is above all a way of saving people who have come out of a hell, with torture, rape and abduction of children,” Brice said, adding the refugees were “almost all victims of sexual violence”.

“The challenge now is that other countries, Europeans, Americans, Canadians, join this process,” said Brice.

A further 47 refugees who were already living in Niger will also be taken in by France.

Alessandra Morelli, head of UNHCR in Niamey, said “we have done miracles” following the evacuation.

Although the figure of 25 refugees is tiny when compared to the 44,000 registered by UNHCR in Libya, Morelli said “we are convinced that there will be other operations”.