France delays vaccination mandate on Caribbean islands amid protests

France delays vaccination mandate on Caribbean islands amid protests

France postponed a mandatory coronavirus vaccination requirement for health workers in Guadeloupe and Martinique, after the measure sparked days of widespread protests and unrest in French Caribbean territories.
In a statement released on Friday, the French Ministry of Health said that the implementation of the vaccination obligation – also in place in mainland France – would be postponed to December 31 to allow dialogue.

Protests intensified in Martinique overnight, with French officials saying journalists and security forces were attacked.

“If the law of the Republic must apply to all French departments, and therefore to Guadeloupe and Martinique, the terms of its application must be adapted to the health and social situation of these two territories”, specifies the ministry of Health in the press release.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Friday that 10 arrests had been made in Martinique and neighboring Guadeloupe after several journalists and members of the security forces were targeted.

“Everything is done to find those responsible,” he wrote on Twitter.

Ten police officers were injured Thursday in Martinique, including five by bullets, the AFP news agency reported, citing police figures.

Protesters have taken to the streets of Martinique and Guadeloupe over the past week to protest against mandatory vaccination rules for health workers and other restrictions related to COVID-19.

In addition to ending the vaccination mandate, protesters demanded wage increases and lower oil prices.

Protesters torched tires and trash cans and blocked roads, with protests reflecting local anger over broader issues with Paris.

“Last night was clearly more intense than the previous nights,” a spokesman for the French state of Martinique told Reuters on Friday.

Reporters Without Borders said the journalists AFP, BFM TV and Abaca Press were targeted with live ammunition as they covered the outbreak of violence in Fort-de-France, Martinique, and called on authorities to quickly investigate what happened .

AFP reported that men on motorcycles shot four journalists, including a news agency photographer, on Thursday evening, but no one was injured.


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