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Omicron, hunt death, floods, migrants: 5 France weekend news updates

Several ‘possible’ cases of the new Covid variant have been detected in France, and EU leaders have met without the UK to discuss the migrant crisis

We look at some of the French news that has made the front pages over the weekend Pic: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Franz12 / Arif biswas / Edward Crawford / Shutterstock

1. Hunter shot dead during boar hunt in Dordogne 

A 70-year-old hunter has been killed by another hunter during a wild boar hunt in Dordogne, Bergerac’s public prosecution service reports. 

An investigation has been opened into “involuntary homicide during hunting” and referred to the gendarmerie and the Office français de la biodiversité.  

The incident occurred at around 10:00 yesterday (November 28) in the commune of Campsegret, approximately 15km north of Bergerac. 

The victim was “mortally wounded” by a shot fired by another hunter of around 60 years of age, who was shooting at a boar. This man is said to be “in a state of shock” following the event, but will be questioned by the team leading the investigation in the coming days. 

Read more: Hunter fatally shoots bear in southwest France after it bit him

2. Éric Zemmour makes ‘highly inelegant’ gesture to member of the public in Marseille

Eric Zemmour has acknowledged that showing his middle finger to a passerby who confronted him as he concluded a trip to Marseille was “highly inelegant.” 

As the polemicist finished a trip to the Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure on Saturday morning, he made the gesture out of his car window in response to a woman who had challenged him outside the church.

“And really deep,” he added. 

During his visit to Marseille, a city he describes as being “disintegrated by immigration,” Mr Zemmour was met with anti-fascist protests, “insults” and “egg-throwing,” according to a Libération journalist who was present. 

In a Twitter post regarding the middle finger gesture, Mr Zemmour wrote: “Madam, it was not the type of debating space that I like, I was short on time. 

“I therefore used the only type of language which you and your “antifascist” comrades immediately understand: your own.

“However, imitating you was highly inelegant, I wholeheartedly admit it.”

At the same time as his Marseille trip, an article published in Closer claimed that Mr Zemmour’s advisor Sarah Knafo is pregnant with his child and due to give birth in May 2022. 

Mr Zemmour, who has been married for nearly 40 years, has lodged a complaint for breach of privacy. 

Although Mr Zemmour has not yet announced that he will stand in next year’s presidential elections, the polls had been suggesting that he could reach a second round run-off with President Emmanuel Macron. 

However, in recent days Marine Le Pen of the Rassemblement National has overtaken him.

Read more: Simon Heffer: Zemmour would be no threat if Macron makes second round

Read more: Royal Institution cancels Éric Zemmour room hire for London event

3. EU leaders meet to discuss migrant crisis without UK

EU leaders have met without a UK representative to discuss how best to prevent dangerous Channel crossings by people trying to reach English beaches. 

This comes four days after the death of 27 people who were trying to sail across the Channel for the UK on Wednesday (November 24). 

Read more: ‘France will not allow the Channel to become a cemetery’ says Macron

French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin met yesterday (November 28) with his Belgian, German and Dutch counterparts, as well as the European Commissioner for interior affairs and the directors of the Europol police and Frontex border agency. 

They announced a series of measures aimed at combating migrant Channel crossings, including reinforced police and judiciary cooperation in the fight against smugglers. 

“Often, the boats are bought in Germany, the money [is] in Belgium, the smugglers stay in the Netherlands,” Mr Darmanin said during a press conference following the meeting. 

The participants also stated that they would seek to increase the efficacy of migrant deportations back to their country of origin, and strengthen enforcement of the Dublin Regulation, which requires that migrants seek asylum in their country of arrival in Europe and not attempt to transit to another state. 

Finally, Frontex will from December 1 deploy a plane charged with surveying the northern French coastline day and night, in the hope of preventing illegal Channel crossings. This will now be carried out by a “European operator” rather than the British private operator previously responsible for this task.

UK Home Secretary Priti Patel was uninvited from this meeting after Prime Minister Boris Johnson Tweeted a letter he had written to President Macron, calling on France to take back people who crossed the Channel to the UK. 

Read more: UK minister barred from French migration meeting as row heats up

“We are not British auxiliaries,” Interior Minister Darmanin said, adding that the UK “must assume its responsibilities.”

4. Eight possible Omicron cases detected in France 

“Eight possible cases of infection” with the new Omicron Covid variant have been recorded in France according to the Direction générale de la Santé. 

Read more: New Omicron variant: France requires contact cases to isolate

In a statement published last night (November 28), the government public health body said that sequencing was underway to confirm whether the cases – which are all linked to travel in Africa – did belong to this variant. 

These people all had a “negative screening for the mutations found in other variants” such as Alpha, Beta or Delta.

Health Minister Olivier Véran had said earlier in the day that: “We have not yet identified this type of variant in France but it is only a matter of hours [until we do],” with cases having already been detected in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and the UK among other countries. 

Read more: New Omicron variant: PCR and isolation for arrivals to UK from France

As concern grows over the spread of the Omicron variant, the World Health Organisation is calling for countries to keep their borders open, and South Africa has asked for the “immediate and urgent” lifting of travel restrictions for people from southern African countries, which Malawi has described as “afrophobia.”

5. Dozens of people evacuated from northern France floods

The Lys plain in northern France has been severely affected by flooding following heavy rain over the weekend. 

Around 60 people have been evacuated from their houses in Nord department due to flooding of the Lawe and the Clarence rivers. 

Several people were also evacuated from their homes in the Pas-de-Calais villages of Arnèke and Eringhem, where fire and rescue teams were called out to around 100 incidents. 

Both Pas-de-Calais and Nord remain under an orange flooding alert this morning (November 29), and there may be disruption on roads and public transport networks.

Read more: 13 French departments on orange alert for floods, snow and black ice

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