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Mayotte: the French government is active to find a way out of the crisis

Ⓒ AFP – Ornella LAMBERTI – | Demonstration against insecurity, March 7, 2018 in
Mamoudzou, Mayotte

The French overseas minister, Annick Girardin, arrived in
Mayotte on Monday to try to find a way out of the protest
movement against insecurity and immigration, which has entered
its fourth week in this French department of the Indian

This visit is intended to calm the anger of the inhabitants
of the archipelago which is under strong migratory pressure
coming from Comoros, only 70 km from its coast. A large part of
the population of Mayotte (about 250,000 inhabitants) sees this
immigration as the main cause of delinquency and social

Since February 20, Mayotte is shaken by a “general strike”
against insecurity. Despite the announcement by the government
of future reinforcements of the police, especially to secure
the back to school this Monday after violence in some high
schools, several thousand people still demonstrated last week
during a day “dead island “.

“I am here to discuss with you land security measures and
measures to fight against immigration,” said Monday the
Minister of Overseas protesters shortly after arriving on the

Before his arrival, the inter-union and the Collective of
the citizens at the origin of the protest movement had
reproached him for “his ignorance of the territory”. They
demanded the arrival of “someone who can engage the
government”, such as the head of state, the prime minister or
the minister of the interior.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – ludovic MARIN – | The Minister of Overseas, Annick Girardin, March 7,
2018 in Paris

The movement has taken so far in many forms: demonstrations
in the streets of the capital, snail operation, operation “dead
island”, roadblocks on major roads … After three weeks of
conflict, the situation is still tense Sunday, with the
blocking of the main port of the island.

Friday, the inter-union called the population “to go down
heavily in the streets” of the capital Mamoudzou Tuesday. She
also asked “mayors to close schools” and invited parents to
keep their children at home until further notice.

Faced with the determination of the protesters, the
government has so far alternated calls for dialogue and

Security reinforcements arrived in Mayotte at the end of the
week to secure institutions and school transport, bearing
according to the government “987 the number of police forces
deployed on the territory”.

– ‘Start again from the beggining’ –

Ⓒ AFP – Ornella LAMBERTI – | Protesters block road near Koungou to protest
insecurity and lack of development Mayotte, March 9,

But the government spokesman, Benjamin Griveaux, assured
Sunday that the start of school would take place as planned
Monday. The State, he said, “will fully assume its
responsibilities, the return to school will be tomorrow morning
in Mayotte”.

Addressing those, especially the local elected officials,
who do not want the return to take place, he said: “The
Republic does not abandon Mayotte, do not give up the

Another point of fixation, on which the Minister of Overseas
will have to try to allay the concern of its interlocutors: the
question of immigration and maternity of Mayotte in

The government indicated that it was thinking about
“extra-territorial status” for this maternity so that the very
large number of births do not “make it possible to obtain
French nationality”.

Ten thousand births take place every year in this maternity
ward, said the spokesman of the government, “70% of whom come
from foreign parents, to be clear from the Comoros for the vast
majority of them, it is a real difficulty”.

Visiting the island in early March, Republican President
(right) Laurent Wauquiez had asked for a reform of the law of
the soil in Mayotte, to fight against illegal immigration. A
solution rejected by the government.

Benjamin Griveaux said it was
necessary to “put around the table the local elected
representatives, the social professionals, the economic world,
the administration” and “start from scratch” to try to respond
to the difficulties of the island.

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