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Madagascar: 2 suspected smugglers arrested after the death of 34 migrants

Madagascar: 2 suspected smugglers arrested after the death of 34 migrants
This photo released by the French Gendarmerie on 19 October 2009 shows ...   -  
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A couple of Malagasy smugglers wanted after the sinking last month of a ship carrying around 60 migrants to the French island of Mayotte, in which 34 of them perished, were arrested on Friday, it was reported,  learned Sunday from the gendarmerie.

This man and this woman in their forties are respectively the captain and the owner of the boat, overloaded, which capsized off the northern tip of Madagascar on March 11.

They were wanted for "illegal boarding and clandestine transport, involuntary homicide of passengers to Mayotte". They were arrested in the rural town of Tsarabaria, in the district of Vohémar, in the north of the island, after having been spotted thanks to the geolocation of their telephone, Lieutenant-Colonel Jules Tovoson Andriatsiriniaina told AFP.

Their wanted notices were posted in all the police and gendarmerie stations in the region. Their trial before the court of Diego Suarez should take place in the week, further specified by the gendarme.

Fifteen other people, all suspected of having participated in the organization of the crossing, had already been placed in preventive detention after their appearance on March 20. "This umpteenth shipwreck has brought to light the migration crisis that Madagascar is currently going through," said Roger Charles Evina, of the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Mayotte is attracting more and more Madagascans, but it is currently difficult to quantify the phenomenon. Capsizes of kwassa kwassa, small motorized fishing boats used by smugglers, occur regularly on the sea route linking Comoros, or Madagascar, to Mayotte.

Many African and Comorian migrants try every year clandestinely to reach Mayotte, half of whose population is foreign. The Comorian island of Anjouan has located only 70 km from Mayotte.

Since 2019, the French State has considerably increased its means of combating this illegal immigration, in particular the continuous presence at sea of ​​interceptor boats and aerial surveillance.

France plans at the end of April a vast operation of the expulsion of foreigners in irregular situations and the destruction of slums in Mayotte.

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