French lawmaker Youssouffa fears outbreak of civil war in Mayotte


French lawmaker Estelle Youssouffa said she fears the outbreak of “civil war” in the French overseas department Mayotte, an island in the Indian Ocean, during a session in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Member of parliament for Mayotte, Youssouffa accused the government of neglecting the years of violence in the region.

“We are talking about hordes of hundreds of young people, 12- or 13-year-old barbarians armed with machetes (…), stealing, killing, assaulting, destroying and spreading chaos; minors, young adults, most of them being foreigners in irregular status (…), spreading terror to make us flee,” Youssoufa said, criticizing the government’s indifference.

“We are wondering, how much is too much?”

The lawmaker added that the Mahoran people were considering defending themselves because they are being attacked and abandoned.

She thanked the Interior Ministry for the deployment of the riot police on Monday and asked Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne when will she ever deploy the navy “in order to defend the borders.”

“What do you intend to do to prevent a civil war in Mayotte?” she said.

Mamoudzou, the biggest city of Mayotte, is facing an unprecedented rise in gang violence.

After several clashes and mutual attacks, a group of 200 youths from the Kaweni neighborhood gathered on Saturday to attack members of the Doujani neighborhood gang.

As the violence spread, dozens of cars were burned Sunday in the Mtsapere Bonovo neighborhood.

France’s Interior Ministry dispatched elite Raid units to support security forces in Mayotte.

Situation in Mayotte

Mayotte has the highest unemployment rate among the French overseas departments, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE).

In 2021, the annual unemployment rate was 30% on the island, while 7.9% in France (Mayotte excluded).

Only 32% of Mahoran people aged 15 or above who left school possess a qualifying diploma.

The island also has the youngest population in France with 60% of its population aged under 25.

Mayotte attracted immigrants from neighboring islands, especially Comoros, in the last five years, mainly women aged 15 to 34 and their children.

Mayotte became a French protectorate in 1841 and a department of France in 2011 following a referendum.

*Writing by Nur Asena Erturk​​​​​​​

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