French overseas territory of Mayotte moves hundreds of refugees to mainland France

Mayotte Copyright Associated Press
Copyright Associated Press
By Eloise Hardy with Euronews
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The Indian Ocean archipelago has dispatched more than 300 East African migrants as local residents voice strong opposition to illegal immigration.


The French territory of Mayotte has moved several hundred migrants to mainland France as hostility toward illegal immigration grows more intense.

The 308 migrants, predominantly from East Africa, have been sent to the department of Yvelines, west of Paris, where they will remain until at least mid-March. They are being temporarily housed in a state accommodation in Thiverval-Grignon.

The move has been overseen by Gérald Darmanin, French Minister of the Interior and Overseas, as Mayotte residents call louder for immediate action against illegal immigration. 

Authorities confirmed on Monday that migrants relocated and granted asylum in Yvelines were part of a larger group causing unrest. Fourteen individuals whose asylum applications were rejected were sent back to their countries on 23 February. 

Located between Mozambique and Madagascar, Mayotte is the lowest-income region in France with most people below the poverty line. Every year African migrants – particularly from Comoros – attempt the difficult journey the territory, often aboard boats operated by smugglers. The journeys often result in incidents at sea. 

Mayotte has recently seen unrest over the setting up of migrant camps within the Cavani stadium enclosure in Mamoudzou, the coastal capital city.

Interior Minister Darmanin began dismantling the camp in mid-January. In a press release on 25 February, the Mayotte prefecture said "state services conducted a significant dismantling operation of the camp located near the Cavani stadium," estimating some 410 migrants were still in the area. 

As the camp was dismantled, around 1,000 more migrants from across the island gathered near the stadium over the weekend in hopes of being moved to France.

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