in the Comoros, the government’s compromise and the anger of returnees from Mayotte
It is agitated, it shouts, it jostles around the port of Mutsamudu, on the Comoros archipelago. In a moist heat, The Citadel has just landed on the island of Anjouan, 60 km from Mayotte, with 90 expelled from the French island on board. This is the boat’s fourth trip in a week.
The gendarmes and the Comorian customs cordon off the area. The port, usually open, is no longer accessible. Neither to the families, nor to the media, not even to the governor of Anjouan, a fierce opponent of the “Wuambushu” operation (“recovery”, in Mahorais), which intends to destroy unsanitary housing and fight against illegal immigration and insecurity in Mayotte. Initially, the French authorities wanted to carry out 20,000 deportations to the border, before halving this objective. Since the beginning of the expulsions, Monday, May 22, around 200 deportees have reached Anjouan.
The Comorian government first tried to engage in a standoff with France, refusing to welcome those expelled and closing its ports to ships from the neighboring island for three weeks. But he ended up giving in under pressure from Paris. Since May 17, the Comoros have officially received candidates for “voluntary departure” from Mayotte, a territory of which they nevertheless claim sovereignty.
“I will go back there as soon as possible”
In Mutsamudu, no one is fooled. Foreigners in an irregular situation rejected by France did not choose to return to the Comoros. “Volunteer”, Ibrahim Saïd Hamadi is absolutely not. He arrives in Mutsamudu exhausted, angry, simply dressed in a Coca-Cola T-shirt and a blue pocket that contains a handful of documents.
“I spent twenty-four days in a detention center in Mayotte. They threatened to leave me another month in prison if I did not return to the Comoros”, he growls. When the boat docked in Mutsamudu, his travel documents were confiscated by Comorian customs. You must not leave any traces of this journey. “It had ‘volunteer’ written on it, but I didn’t agree at all! »he shouts.
The young man, landed illegally in Mayotte in 2018 by kwassa-kwassa (a light boat used for the crossing), left behind his wife, French, and his three children, also French. Her banga (sheet metal house) in the Doujani district, in Mamoudzou, capital of the 101e French department, was destroyed in March by the authorities, already as part of the fight against unsanitary housing.
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