• The National Court of Asylum’s (CNDA) decision to grant asylum to a Palestinian man from the Gaza Strip due to the ‘violence of exceptional intensity’ that has affected the territory since October 2023 could provide a precedent for future protection.
  • The government has announced controversial plans to reform the citizenship rights of people living on the island of Mayotte in order to discourage migration from the Comoros.
  • The former executive director of the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Fabrice Leggeri, has announced that he will be a candidate for the far-right National Rally (RN) party in the upcoming European Parliament elections.

The National Court of Asylum (CNDA) has declared that it considers that the Gaza Strip has been experiencing a ‘situation of indiscriminate violence of exceptional intensity’, thus paving the way for protection of Palestinians from the territory. The Monde reported on a decision by the CNDA on 12 February to grant asylum to a man from Khan Younès on the grounds that he would face a ‘real risk of suffering a serious threat against his life or person’ due to the situation of violence in the Gaza Strip ‘resulting from the armed conflict between the Hamas forces and the Israeli armed forces likely to extend indiscriminately to civilians as well as the humanitarian situation’. According to RFI, the man had applied to the French Office for the Protection of Refugees and Stateless Persons (OFPRA) for refugee status in 2021 but his application had been rejected so he had appealed to the CNDA which decided to grant him asylum. The Monde highlighted the significance of the CNDA’s decision for other Palestinians from the Gaza Strip living in France, writing ‘This type of decision (…) generally sets a precedent for all similar cases’.

Protests led by locals have been taking place in Mayotte in the Indian Ocean for several weeks, partly due to growing insecurity on the island. According to InfoMigrants, tensions have been worsening between residents and migrants on the island which is France’s poorest administrative region and the EU’s newest outermost region. The already tense situation may have been exacerbated by an announcement by the Minister of the Interior, Gérald Darmanin, during a visit to the island on 11 February that the government was planning to introduce a tailor-made constitutional amendment on citizenship for Mayotte. Darmanin told journalists: “It will no longer be possible to become French if you are not the child of a French parent.” He added: “It is an extremely strong, clear, radical measure, which obviously will be limited to the Mayotte archipelago. The announcement received mixed reactions from politicians in mainland France was but it was welcomed by Mayotte’s MP Mansour Kamardine (Republicans (LR)) who described the constitutional reform as “necessary” and stated that “Through [the government] statements, we have the feeling and sensation that the government understands what is happening in Mayotte, at last.” Darmanin explained the government’s decision on the grounds that it would “literally reduce the island’s attractiveness” to migrants from nearby Comoros, although the acquisition of citizenship in Mayotte was already limited as migrants had to be legally resident on the island for three months for their children to be able to request French citizenship later. A French Senate report estimated that between 7000 and 10,000 people died tried to make the crossing between Comoros and Mayotte between 1995 and 2012. However, the Comorian government’s own estimate is 50,000. According to the French National Statistics Institute (INSEE) almost half of the 256,500 people who were living in Mayotte in 2017 did not have French citizenship. Recent violence has left the migrant population feeling increasingly insecure. According to one Congolese migrant who spoke to France24: “people are afraid to leave their homes because if they go out, they risk being attacked on the roads, near the roadblocks.”

The former executive director of the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex), Fabrice Leggeri, has announced that he will stand as a candidate for the far-right National Rally (RN) party in the upcoming European Parliament (EP) elections. Announcing his candidacy, Leggeri, who was head of Frontex from 2015 to 2022 before resigning while the agency was under investigation by the EU Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), spoke about his new party’s determination to tackle what he described as “the migratory submersion, which the European Commission and the Eurocrats do not consider a problem, but rather a project.” He also criticised the European Commission for turning Frontex into a “super NGO managed by fundamental right monitors and officers.” Leggeri’s recent statements are markedly different from the words he used in 2020 when, as Frontex director, he said: “We are developing and improving, of course, the monitoring of the fundamental rights”. Or when in 2015, shortly after taking charge of Frontex, he told journalists: “Those people [migrants] are not criminals. It is not a criminal offense to cross the border illegally.” According to Euractiv, prior to joining RN, Leggeri had been in lengthy negotiations with LR. It quoted a source close to the LR delegation in the EP who described Leggeri’s decision to join the RN as “absurd” because the party had “never stopped attacking Frontex when he was its executive director”. During Leggeri’s time at the helm of Frontex, the agency was engulfed in a number of scandals, including accusations of covering up pushbacks of migrants by the Greek coast guard.

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