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French press review 4 May 2015

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The humanitarian disaster in the Mediterranean continues as thousands more take to the seas from Libya. There are more revelations from Calais about abuses of migrants by French security forces, while the French government piles pressure on child rape suspects in the military to give themselves up. And the birth of Royal Baby 2 lifts hearts, even in France.


According to Le Figaro, 6,000 migrants have been rescued from the Mediterranean Sea this weekend. The paper says they were packed in 17 boats found drifting en route from Libya’s coast to Sicily on Saturday and Sunday night. The conservative publication says French coast guards have been drafted to reinforce the EU operations which are now backed by the deployment of an Icelandic warship to monitor the European coastline.

Libération makes some shocking revelations about police abuses of illegal immigrants trying to cross the channel to the United Kingdom from the border post in Calais, northern France. An Afghan man tells the paper how he was pushed to the ground, sprayed with tear gas and hit in the face as he tried to turn away. Libé says it has been able to lay hands on a video in which a police officer bullies an immigrant who dared to file a complaint against policemen who brutalised him. “Anyone in your situation must accept everything,” he said. The left-leaning newspaper says relations between police and migrants have become so tense to the extent that local authorities are considering a probe of police conduct.

L’Humanité is watching boiling tensions within the French military after Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian called on the soldiers accused of sexually abusing children in the Central African Republic to give themselves up. According to the paper, by hiding the existence of an inquiry into any abuses French soldiers may have committed the army only confirmed its reputation as la grande muette, an expression used to describe the code of silence entertained by the military.

The French papers have their eyes glued on news trickling out of Nepal as scores of French families wait for information about their loved ones missing in the earthquake-devastated country. Rescue officials in the capital Kathmandu have ruled out hopes of finding any more survivors but there were four miraculous rescues eight full days after the earthquake struck killing more than 7,000 people and injuring 14,000 others.

Le Parisien reports that the survivors pulled from the rubble include a centenarian. Funcho Tamang, aged 101, was dug out of his buried home 80km from the capital on Saturday while three women were also pulled alive from the rubble in a small village in Sindupalchowk, a district where 90 per cent of some 40,000 homes were buried by mud slides.

Le Figaro says the latest rescues carry a glimmer of hope that more survivors can still be found. In its latest earthquake update the paper reports that six French tourists were picked up by helicopters on Sunday morning from the remote Manaslu region in north-central Nepal. The paper learned from the foreign ministry that seven others have been classified as missing while 79 more are thought to be out of reach due to communications problems.

Meanwhile Le Monde says Nepal is facing a dilemma -- an influx of international aide airlifted into the country which it is unable to distribute to the worst-hit regions due to its hilly landscape and poor weather conditions which render helicopter deliveries complicated. The country’s road networks have also been swept away by landslides.

Le Parisien
shares the delight of Her Majesty the Queen’s subjects who are celebrating the birth of Baby Royal 2. "It’s a girl", screams the paper which publishes a large photograph splashed across its cover page of Prince William and his wife Kate Middleton with the newborn baby in her arms.