Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

Internet users say "we are not afraid" after Westminster attack

Read more

FOCUS

Pakistan faces water crisis

Read more

ENCORE!

Film show: 'Midwife', 'Beauty and the Beast' and 'Girl Asleep'

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

The hidden collection: Iran exhibits contemporary art masterpieces

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

More countries suspend Brazilian meat imports amid scandal

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Brussels attacks, one year on: 'What if their hate has contaminated us?'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

DR Congo: Rare footage of killings in central Kasaï province sparks alarm

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French interior minister quits over holiday jobs for daughters

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

A French presidential debate with few surprises

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. And you can watch it online as early as 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

2017-03-16 Americas

Canada’s indigenous people determined to improve their lives

Although Canada regularly tops international rankings for its quality of life, the daily existence of the country’s indigenous people, also known as "First Nations", has more in...

Read more

2017-03-09 Middle East

Iraq's lost children: Victims of post-traumatic stress

In Iraq, thousands of civilians are fleeing the battle of Mosul against the Islamic State group jihadists. Many of the displaced have reached IDP camps in the north of the...

Read more

2017-03-03 Africa

Libya: Six years on, what remains of the revolution in key city of Zintan?

Six years have passed since the outbreak of the revolution that led to the ouster and killing of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi. With the country divided between rival clans,...

Read more

2014-03-14 Bashar al-Assad

Syria’s chemical attacks: the inside story

A chemical weapons attack targeted the suburbs of Damascus in August 2013. The West threatened air strikes in response, and Syria agreed to destroy its chemical arms stockpile....

Read more

2017-02-24 Middle East

Video: India’s Kuki people, possible descendants of one of Israel's lost tribes

In northeastern India, a small ethnic group claims to be one of the lost tribes of Israel. The fervour of the Kuki people has persuaded the Chief Rabbi of Israel to approve their...

Read more