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French press review 2 August 2014

Text by: William Niba
6 min

The deadly Ebola virus spiralling out of control in West Africa after claiming 729 lives and infecting more than 1,300 others since March gained front page attention from Le Monde this Saturday.


The paper dispatched reporters to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three countries where the French charity Doctors without Borders is helping to set up a cross border isolation zone. It reports that villagers in the epicentre of the outbreak have become suspicious of doctors who have been unable to stop the spiral of death sweeping through their communities and are now refusing to hand over the remains of their beloved ones, which is why the disease is fast spreading.

Dossier: War in Mali

It investigates the unprecedented mobilisation taking place across West Africa to contain the virus, from Liberia where the overwhelmed authorities have ordered the closure of all schools, to Sierra Leone which has declared a state of emergency.

As the Ebola-hit nations sealed off the epicentre of the outbreak, media attention is also focusing on Washington where President Barack Obama is preparing to welcome about 50 heads of state and government for Monday’s US-Africa summit. The US state department has announced that there will take no risks with the safety and security of US citizens adding that the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention plans to screen African leaders who may have been exposed to the deadly virus before they leave their countries.

Libération voices concern about the continuing violence taking place in the Central African Republic where French forces are locked in a desperate battle to pacify the country ravaged by religious strife. According to the paper, the frail truce brokered by the French Sangaris mission between the Balaka Christian militia and the predominantly Moslem Seleka rebellion is being undermined by heavy clashes between gangs of armed bandits which have broken out in north of the country in which 22 people were killed on Wednesday and Thursday alone.

As the 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas broke down, Le Monde relays warnings from the UN agency for Palestinian refugees that the people of Gaza depressed, terrorised and horrified by the bloodletting are on the brink of an abyss. The paper culled a hashtag from the Facebook page of a young Gaza resident. “I just want to live”, he said and that “if I die, know that I was neither a militant of Hamas, nor a human shield. I was simply at home”.

Dossier: Gaza 2009

Amid mounting calls for a UN investigation of Israel for possible war crimes committed in Gaza, after the bombing of a school housing Palestinian refugees Libération reports that while Navy Pillay, the UN Human Rights chief prepares a probe, the Israeli army is not taking things lightly. According to the paper, Tsahal is consulting legal experts to prepare its defence.

Libé argues that if there is indeed a probe, both Tsahal and Hamas will have to share responsibility for the war crimes committed, but most importantly Israel for the crushing moral responsibility it has as a developed occupying force, which every time there is a lull in the fighting, keeps multiplying Jewish colonies in Palestinian territories, asphyxiating further an imprisoned population packed into the tiny Gaza Strip, and thereby swelling the ranks of Hamas.

The plight of Iraq’s Christians is Le Figaro’s top-most issue of concern this Saturday as it publishes the findings of a new survey showing that two-thirds of the French want the government to intervene in Iraq to halt the persecution of the small minority by Islamist Jihadists. Up to 54 percent of respondents said they were ready to welcome Iraqi Christians to France while 21 percent rejected the idea of an open arms welcome on grounds that France is already over-burdened by other conflicts around the world.

And the sports daily L’Equipe looks forward to Saturday’s first walk of French Football giants Paris Saint-Germain as they prepare to take on French Cup winners Guingamp in a French Champions trophy in the faraway Chinese capital Beijing. Superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be the key attraction of the game.

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