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France to ‘restore republican order’ on Indian Ocean island of Mayotte


France’s minister for overseas territories Marie Guevenoux said the country aimed to “restore republican order” on the French Indian Ocean island of Mayotte by deploying 1,700 law enforcement agents and soldiers in a “clean-up operation” there.

The initiative is designed to addresses longstanding concerns surrounding security, immigration and unhygienic living conditions on the archipelago.

Guevenoux outlined the scope of the planned deployment, which is set to last for “11 weeks”.

“This operation targets key issues such as insecurity, immigration and unsanitary habitats,” she said.

“To respond to security issues, the French authorities have identified 60 individuals who constitute ‘target properties,’” Guevenoux added.

In a bid to curb illegal immigration and tackle gang activity, the joint military and police operation will demolish approximately 1,300 shelters, known locally as “bangas”, where many irregular migrants reside.

“Six military land operations will be carried out,” Guevenoux said.

According to the national French statistics agency Insee, almost half of the Mayotte population is not of French nationality.

The new initiative builds on prior efforts “with 25,000 illegal immigrants” already deported from the island, according to Guevenoux.

She emphasised the continuation of deportation efforts as a main component of the operation.

A maritime military exercise will be also undertaken to intercept boats attempting to encroach into Mayotte’s territorial waters.

That measure is described as critical amid cholera outbreaks affecting Eastern Africa and the country of Comoros. Out of the six reported cases of cholera in Mayotte, five involved individuals who illegally entered the French territory.

Guevenoux underscored the French Government’s commitment to ending so-called “birth-right citizenship” in Mayotte “through constitutional reforms”, in alignment with an official announcement regarding such on February 12.

“By the end of May we will submit a bill concerning the end of birth-right citizenship,” she said.

Mayotte lies between Madagascar and the coast of Mozambique and has long been considered a part of France, making the end of birth-right there a complicated judiciary issue.