The Resin Mystery


Confiscated kwassa-kwassa in the Frontier Police compound.

We had dinner last night with our very nice neighbours, Philippe and Christelle. The conversation turned, as it often does in Mayotte, to the question of illegal immigrants. I’ve posted on this topic before, giving as concise an account as possible of a problem which, it seemed to me, has no ready solution.

Philippe, however, came up with one last night: prevent the export of resin to Comoros. Apparently they get it all from Mayotte, and without it, they can’t make the fibre glass boats they use to cross, called kwassa-kwassa. As these are regularly confiscated by the Frontier Police in Mayotte, there’d soon be no boats left. Given that this seems a very straightforward solution (though you’d have to compensate the resin exporters), I asked Philippe why it hasn’t been done. He doesn’t know. I suspect it can’t be as simple as it seems. But what is the obstacle? Your fearless reporter will investigate further and let you know.

In the meantime, for anyone wanting to learn more about the immigration issue, the link below is to a distressing documentary of 23 minutes in French. Of those that survive the crossing, many find work as builders, undeclared and uninsured. Children are often left behind in Mayotte when their parents are sent back to Comoros. The boys then turn to burglary, the girls to prostitution. Could so much tragedy be avoided by stopping the supply of resin? Somehow I doubt it.

Mayotte and the immigration issue

4 thoughts on “The Resin Mystery

  1. Human creativity, especially in desperation, is such that stopping the supply of resin would probably just shift the means that people use to travel to Mayotte. And might lead to even more dangerous means to travel or promote means controlled by the least savory parts of society. One solution you didn’t mention in your previous post, though it is far from simple, is to strengthen programs for development in the Comoros. Without that, the greater the gap in living standards between the islands, the more likely people will be to immigrate, even at great personal risk.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for that thoughtful comment – you’re entirely right, and I could have gone into the development aid question more. The problem is that it’s not going to happen, at least no time soon. Since becoming a French department, Mayotte’s been developing very fast, while Comoros has been stagnating. So the gap will continue to increase over the coming years. A topic for a future post – I’ll research it a bit more and report back.

      Liked by 1 person

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