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Press review Immigration Asylum-seekers Agriculture

Issued on • Modified

French press review 30 May 2018

media

The aid agency Médecins du Monde says the existence of a camp for 1,500 immigrants in northern Paris is further proof of the failure of a government policy which puts security ahead of humanitarian concerns. How did an agro-chemical lobby group get copies of a proposed amendment to weedkiller legislation days before the French parliament saw the text?


Le Monde gives the top of the front page to the ongoing evacuation of several hundred immigrants from a camp in northern Paris. This is the 29th such operation in the French capital since June 2015.

Le Monde quotes the aid agency Médecins du Monde as saying the situation of the estimated 1,500 men, women and children living in tents under the motorway at La Villette is further proof of the failure of a policy which puts security ahead of humanitarian concerns.

The reason the camp reached such a remarkable size, given that the police in the entire region surrounding Paris have been told to prevent any such regrouping of immigrants, is that the so-called Camp du Millénaire, under the ramps of the ringroad, has been practically invisible to ordinary Parisians and journalists.

And that invisibility, says the medical charity, is an inevitable response to official violence.

The aid agency says sanitary conditions at the camp are catastrophic, that 1,500 people have been left without any information on their rights and how they might go about obtaining help. The camp, says Médecins du Monde, is a symbol of the hypocrisy of a nation in the face of those who come looking for protection.

France is not interested in individuals, it is interested in processing cases and moving the problem further awayn the NGO says.

And this despite a presidential promise that France would offer a humane welcome to migrants and become the "voice of those who go unheard".

Malian child-rescue hero to join French fire brigade

Right-wing paper Le Figaro makes no mention of the ongoing police operation but does, ironically, devote a lot of space to Mamoudou Gassama, the undocumented immigrant from Mali who climbed up the front of a Paris building last weekend to save a child hanging from a fourth-floor balcony.

Gassama's heroic behaviour earned him global star status on the internet, he was invited to meet President Emmanuel Macron and he has since been granted a residence permit by the French police. He is to be trained as a firefighter.

Weeding out the chemical lobby

As the French parliament debates new food laws, left-leaning daily paper Libération looks at the various ways in which the farm and food-processing lobbies influence MPs.

It looks like the game might go a bit further than luxurious lunches at the lobbyists' expense.

Libé points to the case of this week's rejection by deputies of the amendment that would have made the weedkiller glyphosate, a global best-seller, but possibly dangerous to humans, bees and anything else that gets a sniff of it, illegal in France within the next three years.

The deputy who proposed the amendment, former ecologu minister Delphine Batho, has told parliament that the union of chemical companies knew the details of her proposals four days before they were presented to the other MPs for debate. She bases this claim on the fact that the leaked document contained an error which was subsequently corrected. A whistleblower at Dow Chemicals told her that copies of her amendment, complete with the mistake, were circulating at the company, with the instruction to recipients to advise "their" MPs of the chemical companies' concerns.

The chemical companies group, wonderfully named the Union of Industries for the Protection of Plants, deny any access to the French parliamentary database, where the leaked document was stored, saying the mysterious mistake was the result of a copy-and-paste error from a previous amendment.

The president of the National Assembley has run an internal investigation but has failed to locate the source of the leak.

The chemical companies are deeply shocked at the suggestion that they might have had recourse to illegal practises. Perish the thought!