Christian Ally Moussa, 42, drowned along with about 34 other people when their boat went down off the coast of Madagascar on March 12th as they were attempting to reach the French island of Mayotte, from where he had earlier been deported before he was able to attend a hearing over his application for French citizenship.
Search and rescue operations continued on Monday after at least 22 people were found drowned, and another 20 were rescued when their boat capsized in the Indian Ocean during an attempted clandestine crossing from Madagascar to the French archipelago of Mayotte, some 400 kilometres further west.
One of the recurring complaints of consumers living in France's overseas regions is how high the cost of living is compared with Metropolitan France. At the heart of this criticism is the 'octroi de mer' or dock dues, a tax paid on the import of goods to these territories. This tax has been in place since 1670 and the start of the French colonial system. And the European Union has just agreed to continue it to at least 2027. Julien Sartre reports on the history and impact of a tax that is a throwback to colonial days and which still leaves a burden on often poor French consumers living in overseas départements.
Violence is reaching unprecedented levels in the French overseas département of Mayotte in the Indian Ocean, prompted by the arrival of migrants from the neighbouring island nation of Comoros on makeshift boats. The result has been regular expulsions and repatriation of illegal migrants, clashes between the new arrivals and locals, and even riots. The situation has been exacerbated by the Covid crisis. Meanwhile the heavy-handed security response by the authorities in this small département has caused disquiet among local associations. Julien Sartre reports.
Authorities in Paris and on France's Indian Ocean overseas département of Mayotte seem set on deterring further Sri Lankan asylum seekers from coming to the impoverished archipelago. Even if, as a series of documents show, the cost to taxpayers of sending that message has been exorbitant. Manuel Sanson from investigative website Le Poulpe reports
Over the past six years a spate of shark attacks have hit the French Indian Ocean island of La Réunion, leaving nine people dead and many others badly wounded. The problem, virtually unknown before 2011, has traumatised the local population, and in an effort to reduce the danger local authorities have introduced a programme of shark culling, which has outraged conservationists. In all, more than 10 million euros have been ploughed into measures including the erection of safety netting around beaches and the employment of divers to scout for predators close to resorts. But the attacks are continuing, and despite numerous scientific studies no-one knows why. Julien Sartre reports from La Réunion, where locals are anything but united on how to deal with the problem.
Mayotte, which lies in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the East African coast, only became a full-fledged French département (or county) in 2011. The new status means it is now governed by the rules and practices of metropolitan France, including the compulsory and exclusive use of French in schools in a two-island nation where all local people speak regional languages as their mother tongue. Mayotte is also having to endure the uneasy transition from custom and tradition-based law to French common law. Meanwhile the high pay of civil servants posted from France is blamed for the rising cost of living in a society that is blighted by poverty, and where “condescending” expatriates and the middle classes live in protected areas removed from the grim reality of life for most ordinary people. “Some Whites rule here like in colonial times,” says one state employee. Olivia Müller reports on Mayotte's struggle to reconcile its very real needs with its new status as an integral part of France.