Mayotte, France's poorest overseas territory, hit by crippling social crisis

Two weeks of protests against ongoing insecurity on the French Indian Ocean territory of Mayotte have reportedly "paralysed the entire economy" as blockades prevent the movement of goods, disrupt travel and force school closures.

Road blocks "almost every kilometre" were clogging traffic on Mayotte – with violent youths throwing stones in a situation described as "chaos on top of chaos" by president of the local Medef employer federation, Carla Baltus.

Residents of the archipelago – which has long been hit by water shortages, a housing crisis and illegal immigration from neighboring Comoros – “no longer have a life” because social activities are too dangerous, and people are forced to be home by 6pm, Baltus told FranceInfo.

“We fear for our lives every day,” she said, adding the road blocks were also holding up health workers and preventing the delivery of medicines to pharmacies.

Rally in the capital

Mayotte's Forces Vives (Living Forces) collective is behind the blockades, which were temporarily lifted on Tuesday to allow for a rally in multiple areas of the capital, Mamoudzou.

Among their demands is the dismantling of a refugee camp set up in a local football stadium as well as an end to resident permits that prevent their holders from leaving the territory. Locals also complain of lower social benefits and a lower minimum wage than in mainland France.

Residents have access to clean water one day in three and are now receiving bottled water shipped in from mainland France.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
French state to pay Mayotte residents' water bills as crisis worsens
France begins massive handouts of bottled water in drought-stricken Mayotte
Crippling drought forces drastic water cuts in French territory Mayotte