Don't miss




Guinea Conakry : 15 people wounded in clashes

Read more


Racist rows on both sides of the Channel

Read more


Migrant crisis puts the EU to the test, anger at Air France and the Fifa after Blatter (Part 2)

Read more


Nobel peace prize in Tunisia, Syria's red October and tensions in Israel (Part 1)

Read more


Volkswagen crisis: Can you turn scandal into success?

Read more


French rugby fever

Read more

#TECH 24

Apps and social networks: What happens to user data?

Read more


Is Bolivia's president turning his back on indigenous people?

Read more


The Hotel Negresco in Nice, a French legend

Read more

An in-depth report by our senior reporters and team of correspondents from around the world. Every Saturday at 9.10 pm Paris time.



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



2015-10-02 South Africa

Video: Farmers living in fear in South Africa

In South Africa, violence in the big cities like Pretoria, Johannesburg or Cape Town often makes the front pages of the newspapers, but crime that is terrorising countryside...

Read more

2015-09-24 Italy

Video: The children of Italy's 'Ndrangheta mafia

The 'Ndrangheta, or Calabrian mafia, is one of the most powerful criminal organisations in the world. Its annual turnover is estimated at tens of billions of euros. Nicknamed...

Read more

2015-09-18 migrants

Video: The journey to exile, from Greece to France

The migrant crisis is an issue set to plague Europe for years to come. FRANCE 24 dispatched Fernande van Tets, Karim Hakiki and Adel Gastel to cover the issue first hand, and...

Read more

2015-09-11 Algeria

Algeria's rugby pioneers seek international recognition

In Algeria, rugby is largely sidelined by the nation’s favourite sport: football. But thanks to the determination of a few avid players, Algeria has now formed a national rugby...

Read more

2015-09-04 Hungary

Video: Alongside migrants near Hungary’s razor wire fence

Every day, hundreds of migrants set off on the so-called Balkan route, one of the busiest irregular passages to Europe. Although longer, but less dangerous than that across the...

Read more