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Mayotte to open second retention centre for illegal immigrants

media A kwassa-kwassa boat is traditionally used to carry illegal immigrants … AFP

France’s government plans to build a second retention centre in Mayotte by 2014 to address the steady increase of illegal immigrants who make attempts each year to enter the island from nearby Comoros. The announcement comes alongside news that seven people died on Friday after a boat carrying illegal immigrants to Mayotte capsized in the Indian Ocean.

Jean-Pierre Sueur, the president of the law commission in the French senate, told the AFP news agency that the country’s current politics on fighting illegal immigration were “expensive and completely ineffective.”

Sueur is expected to present a report on Wednesday on the situation in Mayotte.

Along with a new retention centre, the bill published on 7 July by the Interior Ministry will also address those arriving illegally in Mayotte with families. Instead of placing them in retention centres, as is currently the case, the bill pushes for families to be given temporary but decent housing.

The existing retention centre in Mayotte can currently hold just 62 people.

Many Comoran people who come to Mayotte illegally end up in slum communities, living without running water or electricity.

Mayotte, which makes up part of France’s overseas territory, lies just 70 kilometres from Anjouan Island in Comores. Last year alone, Mayotte deported 26,405 people, 5,389 of which were children.

French minister for overseas territories, Victorin Lurel, is expected to arrive in Mayotte on Sunday night to discuss the implementation of the new bill.

Lurel was in nearby Reunion Island on Friday when the “kwassa-kwassa” boat carrying 24 illegal immigrants capsized in the Indian Ocean off Mayotte.

He said the event was deplorable and expressed his sadness, assuring that he shared the pain of the families of the victims.


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