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French Press Review 04 Jan 2014


The crisis in the Central African Republic continues to dominate the front pages of the national dailies here in France. Le Monde holds that the French army is trapped in the quagmire in Bangui.

According to the paper, one month after launching the Sangaris operation the French mission has not succeeded in disarming Christian and Muslim militias perpetrating a killing and looting spree in the capital Bangui. For Le Monde, the torments of the French military are compounded by delays in deploying the 4000-strong MISCA peacekeeping force approved by the UN Security Council.

Le Monde’s correspondent in New York reports, that UN chief Ban ki-Moon favours the acceleration of the deployment calendar, but is being bugged down by the African Union’s position that they are not ready to take over the operation. According to the paper, despite the scale of the humanitarian tragedy and the worsening security situation, this file is being bugged down by Washington’s reluctance to fund another UN peacekeeping mission.

Libération reports that the large makeshift refugee camp, close to the Bangui airport where some 370,000 people have sought refuge over the past three weeks, is abandoned by itself. This is after Doctors without Borders announced it was shutting down operations and leaving for security reasons, following the fatal shootings of three children at their camp. The NGO told the paper it had to guard against one of its workers against a sniper bullet.

Le Figaro takes up Europe’s impotence in dealing with the continuing influx of illegal immigrants, after more than a thousand of them were rescued off the coast of Sicily within the past 48 hours by the Italian navy. The right-wing daily found out that most of the boats and their owners come from Libya and the passengers were mostly Syrians. It reports that the capital Tripoli is already flooded by more than 200,000 Syrians waiting to find a ship in the desperate drive to reach Europe. But for Le Figaro, most of them ignore that the Promised Land visible off the Sicilian coastline has become a maritime graveyard.

Aujourd’hui en France presents a draft bill about to be tabled in parliament authorising private armed guards onboard merchant ships. The proposed legislation provides for up to 500 guards per ship, a turning point in international shipping according to the paper. Aujourd’hui en France believes the law will create thousands of new jobs and provide a pragmatic solution to the growing problem of piracy in strategic shipping routes.

And Libération rolls out the latest Bloomberg ranking of the world’s billionaires. It reports that the 300 largest fortunes representing 0.00001 percent of the world’s population saw their wealth increase by 385 billion euros in 2013. That’s 30 times all the resources allocated on development and the fight against poverty all over the world. Libé found out that French aristocracy is well represented in the club with Liliane Bettencourt and heiress to the L’Oreal Empire ranked 15th.


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