On Monday 24 April, a vast operation, called “Wuambushu”, was launched by the Mayotte government to evict and destroy informal settlements. Over the last few weeks, law enforcement officers have been deployed en masse on the island, with the aim of razing a whole series of dwellings, dislodging the foreigners living there and expelling those without proper documentation to the nearest Comorian island. Emmaus International strongly condemns this operation, which is once again part of a strategy to repress and criminalise migrants.
This is not France’s first attempt at this, and its actions can hardly be described as being based on respect for the law. Following the administrative detention in Mayotte and swift deportation to the Comoros of two children aged 3 and 5 on 25 June 2020, France was condemned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). In 2022, La Cimade documented several large-scale operations carried out by law enforcement, following protests by asylum seekers about their degrading living conditions on the island. It should be recalled that the Council of State ruled in 2020 that reception conditions for asylum seekers in Mayotte did not comply with European law.
In Mayotte, 80% of the population lives below the poverty line. In spite of this, people from the African continent, and particularly from the Comoros, continually risk their lives to reach the island. There are countless numbers of people who have drowned at sea after their boats sank. There is economic poverty, social destitution, extremely poor access to rights and public services, and a climate of rejection and xenophobia. It is within this explosive context, and at all costs, that the government wants to carry out this operation of repression, destruction and expulsion.
Rather than actively stigmatising vulnerable foreigners, the government must assume its responsibility to ensure access to rights and a dignified welcome and living conditions for all. We echo the call to abort this operation, as called for by organisations representing the Comorian diaspora, those defending exiled persons, along with international solidarity and humanitarian organisations.