It is still not official but it is imminent. Proposed by Gérald Darmanin and validated by Emmanuel Macron during a defense council, as revealed by Le Canard enchaîné last February, the Wuambushu operation should be the largest ever launched in Mayotte against illegal immigration, a phenomenon particularly important since the population would exceed 350,000 inhabitants while INSEE only lists 256,500.
With the reinforcement of more than 500 law enforcement personnel, in addition to the 700 already on site, it would be a question of demolishing nearly a thousand sheet metal huts, out of the 30,000 that make up the many slums where newcomers settle. And to carry out numerous identity checks, with the aim of massively sending illegal immigrants back to the Comoros – where the majority of them come from.
But, a few hours before the start of operations, many questions arise. Starting with that of the future of the dislodged people. “Near Mamoudzou, the agents have already come to mark with fluorescent paint the houses which are going to be demolished, but the inhabitants do not know where they are going to go, says Daniel Gros, correspondent for the League of Human Rights in Mayotte. If they destroy 1,000 squares, that will make 5,000 people on the street. ““Social surveys will determine the situation of each, relativizes Mansour Kamardine, deputy Les Républicains. Those who are in an irregular situation are likely to be returned, the others will be relocated. The state has even built a relay village. »
“There are constructions but it is far from being enough, replies Daniel Gros, especially since in many families, the situations are mixed: there are people who have papers, others in an irregular situation. , and others who have children born here and who are therefore not deportable. »
Second question: will the authorities be able to carry out as many deportations to the border as necessary? Last year, 26,000 people were already returned and the movement has accelerated since 2023. The detention center, which has 135 places, is already saturated but “the State can create places of detention according to needs” , believes Romain Reille, territorial director of the Forum Réfugiés-Cosi association. “Currently, there is about one boat every two days leaving for the Comoros. There, we learned that we will have three departures per day, ”said Daniel Gros.
But will the government of the Comoros, which has asked France to abandon its project, agree to take these people back? The usual obstacle of consular passes – thanks to which the Comoros accepts the return of its nationals – should not be one, because the archipelago considers that Mayotte is part of its territory (see opposite). In addition, resumes Mansour Kamardine, “I recall that in 2019, the French State signed with the Comoros a development aid agreement of 50 million euros per year over three years, against 7 million previously, in return participation in the fight against human trafficking. So I think there are diplomatic discussions for Anjouan to take its share. »
The fact remains that, as Romain Reille points out, “the majority of people who are renewed come back”. Every day, up to 15 kwassa-kwassa, these boats with which the migrants arrive, would reach Mayotte soil. To counter these returns, the State has already increased its means of surveillance (interceptors at sea, aerial surveillance, terrestrial radars, etc.). For now, the operation divides. The local magistrate’s union, a number of carers and the National Human Rights Commission have denounced her. But it is overwhelmingly supported by local elected officials, who make the link between illegal immigration and violence that has become endemic. Nearly one in five Mahorais declares having already been the victim of a theft or burglary, four times more than in mainland France. In the meantime, many fear the risk of riots. “We hear that there are going to be revolts, continues Romain Reille. Suddenly, everyone is barricaded. »