Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Brexit opens door for Macron to push for greater European integration

Read more

THE DEBATE

Macron's marching orders: New French President's first EU summit

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Handling the heatwave

Read more

FOCUS

South Sudan: A rare look at both sides of the civil war

Read more

PEOPLE & PROFIT

Paris Air Show: Big plane builders face increasing competition

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Former UK police chief: 'We are facing disorganised terrorism'

Read more

ENCORE!

Diana Krall: 'I find romance in everything'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Saudi Arabia's 'Prince of Chaos'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Macron's government, take two: 'Reviewed and corrected'

Read more

REPORTERS

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2011-07-01

The 'French dream' of Tunisia’s illegal immigrants

After the revolution that toppled former President Ben Ali, some 23,000 Tunisians crossed over illegally to the Italian island of Lampedusa. Many have stayed in Italy, others made their way to France. France 24 caught up in Paris with the same group of migrants we filmed in Tunisia in March.

This is “part 2” of a story that began after the fall of former Tunisian President Ben Ali. In the post-revolution chaos, coastguards stopped patrolling the Tunisian coastline and tens of thousands paid smugglers (about 1,000 euros per person) to pack them on old fishing boats and get them to the Italian island of Lampedusa, the gateway to Europe.

They weren’t fleeing the political chaos in the country at the time: they were looking for economic opportunities in a land far richer than theirs.

In “part 1” of the story, we followed Mokhtar, Mohanned and Alaeddine as they prepared to cross the Mediterranean sea. All are part of the same family, all come from Tataouine, the main town in the economically-depressed south.

Three months after they left Tunisia, we decided we needed to show what happens when they reach their destination: what do they do? how are they faring in their new home?

We caught up with them in Aubervilliers, a working-class suburb just north of Paris. They all survived the boat trip, and they all chose to leave Italy for France because they have relatives who can help them here.

What struck me is not so much the hardship or the difficulty for illegal immigrants of finding a job in France, but the huge disconnect between the reality of life here and the expectations of most of these migrants. Alaeddine put it very simply: “coming to France, he said, is the dream of every young Arab. France means tall buildings, luxury cars and luxury clothes.”

What a disappointment it was for him! Alaeddine quickly realized that as an undocumented immigrant who hardly spoke the language, it would be extremely difficult for him to get anything beyond a very menial job. So he decided to cut his losses and now wants to go home.

But many others will hang on and tough it out here, waiting for a job to come their way. They’ve sacrificed too much, taken too many risks, to just give up.

Our report is the story of these undocumented immigrants from southern Tunisia, trying to make it here in France.

By Zakaria DRIAS , Julien SAUVAGET , Cyril VANIER

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2013-04-26 Bashar al-Assad

Syria: Aleppo’s tales of war

Two years into the revolution, Aleppo’s resistance shows no sign of letting up. France 24 brings you a portrait of the rebels who refuse to abandon their city to Bashar al-Assad....

Read more

2017-06-16 Europe

Modern-day slaves: Europe's fruit pickers

Every year in southern Europe, five million tonnes of fruit and vegetables are harvested for supermarket shelves. But those supermarkets are seeking ever lower prices, and are...

Read more

2017-06-08 Asia-pacific

Video: Millions of single Chinese men desperately seeking a wife

In China, the one-child policy has wreaked havoc. By encouraging the birth of boys rather than girls, an imbalance of the sexes has emerged. China now counts far more men than...

Read more

2017-06-01 Americas

Exclusive: The war for Brazil’s superhighway of drugs

Manaus, the capital of Brazil’s northern Amazonas state, has increasingly become the scene of violent confrontations between gangs. Located near the Colombian border, the city...

Read more

2017-05-26 Middle East

Exclusive: Inside the battle for Mosul, chaos on the ground

For more than seven months, Iraqi forces have been conducting a major offensive to rout the Islamic State group from Mosul. But the jihadists are putting up fierce resistance...

Read more