20 March 2018



Protesters hold French and Mayotte flags as they gather on the Place de la Republique in Mamoudzou, Mayotte, on 13 March 2018Image copyrightAFP
Image captionThe island has been gripped by protests and unrest for the last few weeks

A group of residents from the Indian Ocean French island of Mayotte has been rounding up suspected illegal migrants and taking them to local police.
The move targeted around 100 "foreigners, Comorans and Africans", a member of the group told AFP.
Protests against the economic crisis and illegal immigrants from the Comoros islands have paralysed the island.
Mayotte has been in turmoil since mid-February, with roadblocks, a general strike and protests.
France's minister for overseas territories, Annick Girardin, has condemned the move, saying "this kind of practice does not exist in a department".
She urged the population to let the police do their job, adding that security arrangements were already in place.

Why the unrest?

Locals complain that the arrivals of migrants are putting Mayotte's health, housing and education services under pressure.

Gendarmes control the road traffic and check IDs on 15 March 2018 in Majicavo in the French overseas territory of MayotteImage copyrightAFP
Image captionLocal police carry out security checks on the island

Violent clashes between rival gangs at a school sparked anger over spiralling crime which many residents blame on migrants from the non-French Comoran islands.
Ms Girardin visited the island earlier in the week to negotiate with protest leaders, and an agreement seemed to have been reached then.
But they later said they had felt "betrayed" by Ms Girardin's suggestion that an accord had been reached before they had had a chance to consult with demonstrators.
They announced they were carrying on with their movement, but were willing to hold new talks with government representatives.
French Guiana in South America has experienced a similar influx from Haiti and neighbouring countries in recent years that has also put pressure on under-resourced hospitals and schools.
That led to months-long protests ahead of France's presidential election last year, which prompted promises of extra security forces and funding.

Is there a health crisis in Mayotte?

Nurses feed and care for newborn babies in the nursery and intensive care unit of the Mayotte Maternity Hospital in Mamoudzou on 14 March 2018Image copyrightAFP
Image captionMayotte's hospital is now said to be one of France's busiest maternity hospitals

About 70% of the 10,000 babies born every year in the island's only maternity hospital in the main town of Mamoudzou are born to illegal migrants, mainly from the Comoran islands, according to official statistics.
It is said to be one of France's busiest - to the point that the government is considering declaring the hospital as non-French territory so that children born there do not automatically qualify for French citizenship.
"The truth is we're suffocating in Mayotte. We can't access our hospitals anymore. We have to go to Reunion Island or elsewhere for treatment," Marianne, a protester, told the AFP news agency.
"We can't give birth in Mayotte anymore because there are too many deliveries. Our safety is at stake."

Why is Mayotte French?

Mayotte is an island of 250,000 people that is part of the Comoros archipelago off the coast of Africa.

Mayotte map

The Comoros was a French colony until 1975 when it declared independence.
But Mayotte opted to remain part of France, voting overwhelmingly in 2009 in favour of becoming an integral part of France, mainly because of the economic benefits associated with becoming French.
In 2011, it became the 101st French department, in accordance with the 2009 referendum.
It is a predominantly Muslim country, and although French is the official language, only about half of the population can read or write it.

France Seeks Referendum in Mayotte despite UN Resolutions



EXECUTIVE COUNCIL Fourteenth Ordinary Session 26 – 30 January 2009 Addis Ababa, ETHIOPIA 



The Executive Council: 

1. TAKES NOTE of the Report of the Government of the Union of the Comoros on the situation in the Comorian Island of Mayotte; 

2. RECALLS all the previous resolutions of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the Comorian Island of Mayotte and RECALLS ALSO that the Comorian people, at the referendum of 22 December 1974, expressed their will for independence in the political unity and the territorial integrity of the archipelago of the Comoros; 

3. CONSIDERS that the referendums organized on 8 February 1976 and 11 April 1976 by the former colonial power in the Comorian Island of Mayotte constitute a serious violation of the territorial integrity of the Comoros and 

ALSO CONSIDERS that the inclusion of the Comorian Island of Mayotte in the Constitution of the French Republic is contrary to international law; 

4. CONDEMNS the organization on 29 March 2009 of a referendum on the departmentalise of the Comorian Island of Mayotte and DEMANDS an immediate end to that process; 

5. REAFFIRMS that the Comorian Island of Mayotte belongs to the Union of the Comoros

6. REQUESTS for the immediate establishment of a dialogue between the Union of the Comoros and France in order to determine together the modalities for the return of Mayotte to the Union of the Comoros; 

7. DECIDES to reactivate the Ad-Hoc Committee of Seven on the Comorian Island of Mayotte.