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(en) France, OCL CA #338 - A review of Operation Wuambushu (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Sat, 13 Apr 2024 10:05:39 +0300

Operation Wuambushu ("resumption" in Mahorais, "kill them" in old Bantu) is a French military-police operation, planned and announced after the end of Ramadan and carried out in Mayotte since April 24, 2023, aimed at expelling illegal aliens, to destroy the shanty towns and to fight against crime on the island. ---- Gérald Darmanin evokes the threat of "radical Islamism, particularly towards Mayotte". "We are in Mayotte, near the African Great Lakes, which is threatened by radical Islamism. The intelligence notes tell us of the desire for expansion of radical Islamism, particularly towards Mayotte, a land of moderate Islam.» "Clearly, we must avoid the Islamist attack of tomorrow and put an end to the development of gangs and their criminal organization. We have already created the Raid antenna and strengthened the GIGN antenna. It is therefore a resolute and firm action.»

The State had announced large figures for this operation: 1,000 destruction of "bangas" ("unsanitary huts", a cleaning which therefore openly targets those from other islands in the Archipelago) and 10,000 returned to the border were to have place. This operation - which mobilizes 1,800 police officers and gendarmes, including hundreds of reinforcements from mainland France (four squadrons of mobile gendarmes, police officers from the CRS-8, specialists in the fight against urban violence, a total of 510 members of the forces of the order) - aims to empty the neighborhoods of illegal immigrants and to increase the arrests of young people responsible for stones, thefts or attacks in the archipelago "plagued by violence" according to its inhabitants.

From the first week, Operation Wuambushu suffered several setbacks. First there was this first demolition, planned in the Talus 2 district in Majicavo (north of Mamoudzou), but canceled by the courts. "The destruction of the applicants' homes, a consequence of the administration's decision, is manifestly irregular," pointed out the judge in her order, noting an "assault" and explaining that the demolition operation could have a "certain impact on the safety" of residents.

Then there was the famous boat called Maria Galanta, supposed to transport people in an irregular situation from administrative detention centers (CRA) to the Comoros. But he was forced to turn back before even passing French territorial waters because the Comorian ports kept their doors closed. While Operation Wuambushu was to allow massive expulsions of Comorians based in Mayotte sometimes for decades - between 70 and 80 people are already expelled every day on average throughout the year - these multiple These developments are the sign of a bitter failure for the prefectural authorities and the Ministry of the Interior.

To give impetus to Operation Wuambushu and try to reassure, early in the morning of Thursday, a demolition of permanent houses was launched in Longoni, north of Mayotte, then announced with great fanfare by the prefect of Mayotte, Thierry Suquet. Yes, but here it is: this demolition had nothing to do with Wuambushu, and the homes concerned had already been empty for some time. "There is no removal, no deportation against a backdrop of diplomatic mess with the Comoros, no particular impact on the arrests despite what Darmanin says.»
Operation Wuambushu was planned to last two months, but was finally extended. At the end of June, the objective increases to 1,250 destructions by the end of the year.

There are no official statistics that support the fallacious assertions of Mahorais elected officials who attribute this violence exclusively to young people from populations coming from the Union of the Comoros. This youth responsible for delinquency and riots on public roads is made up of a majority of young people without families, raised on the streets - their parents being expelled - but others come from poor Mahorese families. Prefect Thierry Suquet recognized that "Mayotte is once again experiencing troubled and violent periods and times", announcing police reinforcements promised by the Ministry of the Interior. According to the gendarmerie, a new squadron of 70 soldiers must come to reinforce the 350 gendarmes on site. According to the territorial director of the national police in Mayotte, "These eruptions of violence happen regularly", and he is also asking for new reinforcements to support his 750 police officers.

If we only look at the figures, Wuambushu has not met its objectives in the fight against illegal immigration. According to Matignon, 22,000 people were deported to the Comoros at the beginning of December 2023. However, this was the primary argument of the operation, Mayotte attracting thousands of migrants arriving by sea each year, mainly from the neighboring Comorian island of Anjouan. According to the sub-prefect in charge of illegal immigration, Frédéric Sautron, "25,380 people had been removed" from the territory in 2022. According to a police officer from the administrative detention center (CRA) "The problem is diplomatic, we know very well that these people come back, sometimes under another identity. We apply the policy of numbers. But that's no use, we have to find an agreement with the Comoros.»

This was the other priority objective of Operation Wuambushu: to destroy the unsanitary bangas organized in shantytowns, which have multiplied in Mayotte and are sometimes threatened by landslides. With the last huts destroyed, in Mtsamoudou[southeast]in November, only 700 bangas were destroyed. In 2021, "1,600 sheet metal huts had been destroyed," indicates the representative of the Human Rights League (LDH) in Mayotte, who adds that the department is hampered by a glaring lack of rehousing solutions and that "the displaced families, who find themselves on the street, inevitably rebuild elsewhere." In total, "30% of housing in Mayotte is informal," says Matignon.

France is losing its footing in its African pre-square. It is nevertheless its preponderant African presence which until now gave it a major place in the global political scene, apart from nuclear deterrence and its right of veto in the Security Council. Mayotte, which has remained a thorn in France's side since 1975, can hurt it in today's context.

Camille, January 17, 2024

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