Article published on the 2010-01-18 Latest update 2010-01-18 15:44 TU
Sarkozy, who is on a two-day tour of some of France’s overseas departments, called on business owners not to employ undocumented immigrants, particularly those from neighbouring Comoros islands.
He linked the island’s high unemployment rate – estimated at 26 per cent – with illegal labour.
"You cannot on the one hand want employment for Mahorais youth and complain about problems of illegal immigration, and on the other hand benefit from it,” he said in a speech in front of 10,000 people in Mamoudzou, the island’s capital.
An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 of Mayotte’s 186,000 people are illegal, and many of them work in the agriculture sector.
With an increased border police presence on the island since 2002, some 20,000 people were deported last year, four times more as in 2002, and almost as much as were deported from mainland France.
"But let’s not lie to ourselves: the battle is far from won,” said Sarkozy.
Mayotte voted last year to become France’s 101st department. It will be poorest of France’s overseas territories, and Sarkozy said it was up to the island to create its own wealth, though mainland France is ready to provide “all necessary infrastructure.”
He highlighted the island’s tourism potential, lamenting that no more than 40,000 people a year visit the island because of a lack of infrastructure.
2009-03-30 09:14 TU