France’s ‘Spiderman’ joins fire brigade as citizenship awaits

1 / 5
This handout photo taken and released by the Paris Fire Brigade (Brigade des sapeurs-pompiers de Paris - BSPP) on May 29, 2018, shows Mamoudou Gassama (2nd L), the 22-year-old Malian "Spiderman" feted for saving a child hanging from a balcony, visiting the Paris Fire Brigade headquarters and Champerret fire station in Paris. (AFP)
2 / 5
Malian migrant Mamoudou Gassama (R) shows his temporary residence permit after receiving it at the Prefecture of Bobigny, northeast of Paris on May 29, 2018, one day after he was honored by the French President for scaling an apartment building to save a 4-year-old child dangling from a fourth-floor balcony. (AFP)
3 / 5
French President Emmanuel Macron (L) speaks with Mamoudou Gassama, 22, from Mali, at the presidential Elysee Palace in Paris, on May, 28, 2018. (AFP)
4 / 5
Malian migrant Mamoudou Gassama (3L) surrounded by journalists, walks down stairs with Seine-Saint-Denis Prefet Pierre-Andre Durand (2L) as he arrives to receive a temporary residence permit at the Prefecture of Bobigny, northeast of Paris on May 29, 2018, one day after he was honored by the French President for scaling an apartment building to save a 4-year-old child dangling from a fourth-floor balcony. (AFP)
5 / 5
Mamoudou Gassama was captured on video scaling an apartment block to bring a child hanging from a balcony to safety. (Reuters)
Updated 30 May 2018
0

France’s ‘Spiderman’ joins fire brigade as citizenship awaits

  • Many residents were unaware the shy youth was living at the hostel and happy to see him hailed for his bravery by President Emmanuel Macron and being placed on a fast track to French citizenship.
  • On his arrival in France in September 2017 after traveling the Mediterranean migrant route, Gassama was given a mattress on the floor in a room occupied by his 54-year-old brother Birama and three relatives from his home village of Yaguine in western Mali

PARIS: Mamoudou Gassama, the 22-year-old Malian “Spiderman” feted for saving a child hanging from a balcony, took his first step toward French citizenship Tuesday and joined the fire brigade as accolades continued to pour in over his daring rescue.
Video footage of Gassama scaling four storys of the building with his bare hands has catapulted the young man to global fame, and earned him the promise of citizenship from President Emmanuel Macron.
Wearing white sweatpants and a black cap, the hero of a rescue video viewed by millions of people appeared slightly overwhelmed by the media furor as he filed his application for legal residency in the Paris suburb of Bobigny.
Hailing the bravery of the youth who had been living in France illegally, the head of the local authority, Pierre-Andre Durand said: “How can anyone fail to be impressed by what he did, not admire it?
“He helped someone in danger, which is not such a common thing in our society.”
Gassama became an overnight sensation after the video of him plucking a four-year-old boy to safety Saturday went viral.
On Monday he was honored by President Emmanuel Macron with a medal for bravery, the promise of citizenship and the offer of a job with the fire service.
Gassama arrived in France via Italy and the perilous Mediterranean migrant route.
His official permit allowing him to work will arrive within a month, and his citizenship papers in about three months, officials said Tuesday.
The athletic Malian also visited a fire station to sign up for a 10-month internship with the Paris fire and rescue services, expected to pay close to 600 euros ($690) a month.

The family of the young boy he saved thanked him Tuesday for his quick thinking.
The boy’s paternal grandmother, who like his mother lives in Reunion, told RMC radio Tuesday that she was “very moved” by the images of the rescue and sent “huge thanks” to Gassama.
“He’s really a hero,” she said. “He did not stand by and watch, he saved my little sweetpea.”
The boy’s father, who had been living alone with him in Paris, had left him alone to go out to the shops and then remained on the street to play Pokemon Go, according to French investigators.
He was arrested on charges of neglecting his parental duties but released again on Monday.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said he had admitted his guilt and expressed “profound regret.”
The boy’s mother learned the news of the rescue on Reunion Island — the French Indian Ocean territory where she and the father were born and where she still lives.
Reacting to Gassama’s intervention on Antenne Reunion radio she said: “We can only thank him and thank heaven he was so reactive.”
“Things could have turned out much worse so I am relieved,” she said, adding that she was impatient to be reunited with her son and husband.

Gassama told Macron during a visit on Monday that he “did not think twice” before springing into action.
Lawmakers are debating a controversial bill that would speed up the deportation of economic migrants and failed asylum-seekers, thousands of whom live in squalid camps in the capital.
“There’s a bit of hypocrisy or cynicism,” added Claire Rodier of the GISTI association which supports immigrants. She saw a contrast between the treatment of Gassama and “the repressive policy of this government against migrants and those without documents.”
 


Survivors: Up to 117 migrants missing in capsizing off Libya

Updated 24 min 34 sec ago
0

Survivors: Up to 117 migrants missing in capsizing off Libya

  • The migrants came mainly from west Africa
  • The Italian navy said it had alerted Libyan authorities who coordinated rescue operations

MILAN: A rescue official says survivors have told rescuers that up to 117 migrants might have died when a rubber dinghy capsized in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya.
Flavio Di Giacomo of International Organization for Migration says three survivors were plucked to safety by an Italian navy helicopter on Friday, and they say 120 were aboard when the dinghy left Libya.

He said the people came mainly from west Africa, adding: “Ten women including a pregnant girl were aboard and two children, one of whom was only two months old.”
The navy says its airplane launched life rafts after it spotted the sinking dinghy Friday with about 20 people aboard. It wasn't immediately clear if some migrants had already fallen off.
The Italian Coast Guard says Libya asked a nearby cargo ship to search for survivors, but no one was found.
The Italian news agency ANSA quoted Libyan authorities as saying a dispatched Libyan coast guard boat turned back after mechanical problems.
According to the IOM, 2,297 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean last year, out of a total of 116,959 people who reached Europe by sea.
Arrivals in the first 16 days of 2019 totalled 4,449, almost all by sea, compared with 2,964 in the same period of 2018.
“As long as European ports will remain open ... sea-traffickers will continue to do business and kill people,” Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said in a Facebook post late on Friday.
Since Italy’s populist government came to power in June, Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant League, has closed Italian ports to humanitarian vessels.