Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Macron and Kagame meet to repair strained ties over Rwandan genocide

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Remembering Philip Roth

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'Solo: A Star Wars Story', 'Angel Face' and 'Peeping Tom'

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Children of Fallujah try to rebuild their lives

Read more

FOCUS

Philippines moves towards allowing divorce

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

'We are seeking a new deal', Pompeo advisor says on Iran

Read more

ENCORE!

Hugh Coltman serves up a New Orleans-inspired musical gumbo

Read more

ENCORE!

Music show: Opera singer Lawrence Brownlee, Snow Patrol & Natalie Prass

Read more

PERSPECTIVE

Are there other universes like ours?

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

2018-05-18 Middle East

Beyond the conflict: Reporter's notebook in modern-day Israel

Israel regularly makes headlines, but there is more to the country than the conflict with the Palestinians. FRANCE 24 reports from a young but highly developed nation, a holy...

Read more

2018-05-11 Middle East

Video: Stateless in Palestine

What does life in the West Bank look like under Israeli occupation? Our reporters travelled to Area C, to meet the women and men who live on lands coveted by Israeli settlers....

Read more

2018-04-27 France

Video: The Foreign Legion, another French exception

Shrouded in mystery and prestige, the French Foreign Legion is just as feared by its enemies as it is envied by its allies. The legionnaires come from across the world, prepared...

Read more

2018-04-20 Africa

Africa’s donkeys slaughtered for Chinese ‘miracle elixir’

Every year, China slaughters millions of donkeys to make Ejiao, a traditional medicine hailed as a ‘miracle elixir’ which is used to treat various ailments. As China’s donkey...

Read more

2018-04-13 Americas

From Brazil to Canada: the new odyssey for African migrants

Canada has become the new El Dorado for many African migrants, who have seen Europe and the United States close their borders. But they face a dangerous journey across South and...

Read more