Why is France cracking down on refugees in the Indian Ocean?

Protesters march behind a banner reading 'Mayotte is Comorian and will stay forever' in a demonstration against French Minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin's legislative proposal on asylum and immigration, Paris, April 29, 2023 [File: Alain Jocard/AFP]

French security forces are tackling ‘illegal migration’ in their overseas territory of Mayotte.

There is an island in the Indian Ocean that is part of France. It is called Mayotte and has become a front line in the story of those seeking asylum in the European Union. Mayotte was part of neighbouring Comoros until 1975. Now, Comorians and others are fleeing to Mayotte by boat seeking asylum or a better life.

About 1,800 security officers have been deployed from mainland France as part of Operation Wuambushu, which means “take back” in Mayotte’s local language. The government says that the shantytowns full of people are becoming economy, safety, and health concerns. The move has sparked demonstrations for and against the operation.

In this episode: 

  • Dawud Bumaye (@dawudbumaye), Afro-feminist and Comorian activist

Episode credits:

This episode was produced by Chloe K Li and our host, Malika Bilal. Khaled Soltan fact-checked this episode.

Our sound designer is Alex Roldan. Munera Al Dosari and Adam Abou-Gad are our engagement producers. 

Alexandra Locke is The Take’s executive producer, and Ney Alvarez is Al Jazeera’s head of audio.

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