Hundreds of foreigners have been forced from their homes on the French Indian island of Mayotte, in a fresh wave of xenophobic evictions by anti-refugee groups.
Local officials told the AFP news agency that anti-refugee groups went door-to-door across nine villages on Sunday forcing foreigners from their homes, while threatening others to leave within the coming days.
Nearly 700 people were expelled from the central village of Ouangani alone, including dozens of families with proof of legal residency, the Comoran associations on Mayotte said.
Most of the expelled villagers, mainly from the neighbouring Comoros islands, were forced to head to the capital Mamoudzou to join hundreds of families already camped out in the main square.
The island’s authorities, Mayotte Prefecture, said they held a crisis meeting on Sunday to discuss the worsening unrest.
For months, anti-foreigner groups have been whipping up hostility to migrants with leaflets accusing them of “clandestine immigration” and “daily thefts, assaults and murders”.
Earlier this month, French President Francois Hollande called the situation on Mayotte “extremely worrying”.
More than 40 percent of Mayotte’s population is thought to have been born abroad. Many come from nearby Comoros in search of work.
Much wealthier than its neighbouring islands, Mayotte opted to remain under French rule when the other islands in the Comoros archipelago chose independence in 1975.