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Terror in Europe

"Deradicalization" Center For Islamic Extremists Comes To Quaint French Town

In the scenic Loire Valley southwest of Paris, a town was designated to accommodate the first center of "deradicalization" of Islamic extremists in France. Since then, the community in Indre-et-Loire has been consumed by anger and fear.

Protest against the deradicalization center in Beaumont-en-Veron
Protest against the deradicalization center in Beaumont-en-Veron
Delphine de Mallevoüe

BEAUMONT-EN-VERON — This French town of 2,900 tucked in a quaint corner of the Loire Valley, known for its sprawling castles, has become a center of anger and anxiety over the past few months. It was last March when French Prime Minister Manuel Valls announced that Beaumont-en-Véron would host the first "center of deradicalization" for those involved or linked with Islamic terrorist activities.

The first people to be brought to the new site arrived last week in Castle Pontourny. There were extra police officers on hand, but they were there to deal with upset locals. Michel Carrier, a retiree, has a house is in front of the Castle. "It's well-known, these residents are angels, there are no problems," he says, with bitter irony. "Everybody is very concerned about the security, and even more since the Nice terror attack."

A neighbor adds "We are told that the occupants will not not be registered as a national security risk (fiche "S") with French authorities — but the perpetrator of Nice terror attack wasn't registered either, it's just too frightening."

A "reckless" choice

Opponents, who came with banners saying "Deradicalization = smoke and mirrors" or "No external security guarantee for residents" have organized into an association Radicalement Digne de Pontourny, which counts about 100 members, and has already gathered some 700 signatures.

For Christian Matron, another Beaumont-en-Véron resident, the objective of the association is tomonitor this choice which he thinks was made "too quickly."

"It's even more a reckless choice given the fact that it is experimental and hardly anyone is able to provide sufficient guarantees or results. Half of the experts are against this idea and the other half support it," Matron says. "We don't know where this will wind up. There is nobody here who would disagree with the idea that we need to test solutions, but to experiment with so much improvisation, when the stakes and the risks are so high, it's just irresponsible."

Asto the argument in response to the mayor of Beaumont-en-Véron, Bernard Château, saying that "zero risk does not exist," Matron calls it "head-in-the-sand policy."

Beyondfears around security, residents are worried about the devaluation of their homes and the attractiveness of the area for the tourists. Some locals have already installed new safety systems for their homes, and want video surveillance to be expanded in the city.

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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