Located in the heart of the Indian Ocean, between Madagascar and the coast of Mozambique, Mayotte is a part of France unlike any other.
This island in the Comoros, known for its lagoon with turquoise waters and its coral reef, has seen its population quadruple since the mid-1980s. From 70,000 to 280,000 people today, this demographic explosion is due to a particularly high fertility rate (more than four children per woman) and record-breaking illegal immigration.
Every day, from neighbouring islands, a dozen motor boats – the kwassas – dock on the beaches of Mayotte, overloaded with Comorians seeking social assistance and a better future. So much so that the number of foreign nationals on the island, 150,000, now exceeds that of French citizens. As a result, schools and high schools are overcrowded. Shantytowns eat away at the hillsides and two-thirds of the inhabitants live below the poverty line.
Today, the police are facing an unprecedented wave of delinquency. Assaults and fights between young people, thefts, burglaries, and the stoning of buses and police vehicles are a daily occurrence. Faced with these tensions, the state is struggling to find answers. In Mayotte, the average per capita income is six times lower than in mainland France. Border Police officers are overwhelmed, the administrative detention centre is saturated. Not feeling at home anymore, many Mahoran citizens organise themselves into militias and patrol their neighbourhoods with radical methods.
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