Wire Service
1 minute read
27 Mar 2018
7:30 pm

France summons Comoros ambassador in migrant row


France said Tuesday that it had summoned the ambassador of the Comoros after the Indian Ocean nation refused to take back illegal immigrants deported from the neighbouring French island of Mayotte.

France’s foreign affairs ministry said it summoned Mohamed Soulaimana on Monday, reminding him of France’s “serious concern regarding the measures taken last week by Comorian authorities”.

“We firmly reiterated our demand for them to immediately lift these measures which are stopping the return of Comorian residents who have entered Mayotte illegally,” ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muehll said in a statement.

Mayotte, located between Madagascar and the southeast African mainland, has been rocked by weeks of protest over living standards and a wave of immigration from the Comoros.

Mayotte deported 19,000 people in 2015 — barely less than the 20,000 from all of mainland France.

Mayotte authorities have been increasing the pace of deportations, but the Comoros government responded last Wednesday by refusing to accept those pushed back.

On Friday the Comoros did however agree to reinforce security on the archipelago’s island of Anjouan, the main departure point for migrants, including by targeting traffickers.

The Comoros, one of the world’s poorest countries, was a French colony until 1975 when it declared independence.

Immigration into Mayotte, where income is 13 times higher per head, has surged for years as Comorians have sought better opportunities on the French island.

Many in Mayotte say the uncontrolled migration is to blame for spiralling crime levels, while a huge influx of pregnant mothers hoping to give birth on the French island has put a strain on public health services.