The France "will not stop" the operation "Wuambushu" ("recovery" in Mahorais) launched in Mayotte in the name of the fight against delinquency and slums. This is what assured this Monday the prefect of this French department in the Indian Ocean, "The operations (...) to fight against delinquency and against unhealthy housing, with their consequences on illegal immigration, we will not stop them, "assured Thierry Suquet in front of the press, in a parking lot of Tzoundzou, in the suburb of Mamoudzou.

The representative of the State also said he hoped to "resume quickly" the rotations of boats to the Comorian island of Anjouan, the Comoros having refused Monday the berthing of a ship carrying sixty people. According to the prefect, these passengers included "people who were returning to the Comoros because they were in an illegal situation".

"Unilateral" decision

However, the Comorian Minister of the Interior, Fakridine Mahamoud, opposes it: "as long as the French side decides to do things unilaterally, we will take our responsibilities," he said, assuring that "no expellee will return to a port under Comorian sovereignty". The prefect of Mayotte said he hoped that the situation would be resolved through "dialogue". "We have common interests with the Comoros, which are in particular the safeguarding of human life at sea and the control of illegal immigration," he said.

Some 1,800 police and gendarmes, including hundreds of reinforcements from mainland France, are exceptionally mobilized in Mayotte for this controversial operation, to which the government has not officially given a launch date or end.

The France plans to dislodge irregular migrants from the slums of Mayotte, France's 101st department, and deport undocumented migrants – mostly Comorians – to Anjouan, the nearest Comorian island 70 km away.

MEPs support, LAD protests

In the slums threatened with destruction, residents and state officials are preparing for the first eviction operation, scheduled for Tuesday at 6 a.m.

The two deputies of Mayotte, Estelle Youssouffa (Liot) and Mansour Kamardine (LR), gave their "support" to the controversial operation, the first seeing in the slums "hotbeds of insecurity, violence, which shelter traffickers and gangs".

Conversely, the association Droit au logement (DAL) called on Sunday to stop this "brutal" and "anti-poor" operation and the collective "Uni-e-s contre une immigration disposable" (UCIJ-2023), which brings together 400 associations and unions, said Monday that it feared "violence and violations of the law".

Many African migrants, especially Comorians, try every year to reach Mayotte illegally. These risky crossings often take a dramatic turn with shipwrecks of "kwassa kwassa", small motorized fishing boats used by smugglers. Geographically part of the Comorian archipelago,

Mayotte seceded from the Comoros in 1974, following a referendum in which the other three islands chose independence. It became a French department in 2011, as the Comoros still refuses to recognize the sovereignty of the France. In 2019, Moroni pledged to "cooperate" with Paris on immigration, in exchange for development aid of 150 million euros over three years.

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