France: a campaign succeeds in saving the apprentice baker from expulsion

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A French apprentice baker from Guinea obtained a residence permit. His employer had gone on a hunger strike to protest his deportation; the campaign captured the world’s attention.

A French baker’s passionate campaign to save his 18-year-old Guinean apprentice Laye Fodé Traoré from deportation ended in victory, he told the French news agency. AFP Thursday. The Guinean has obtained a residence permit.

“Laye has his papers and he’s back to work on Tuesday!” »Says the baker Stéphane Ravacley.

Hunger strike against eviction

Ravacley had been on a hunger strike for over a week to protest the threat of his employee’s eviction. He was admitted to the hospital earlier in the week suffering from weakness and fainting from his continued fast.

The 50-year-old began his strike on January 3 when he learned that Traore could be deported to his home country.

“I am fighting at the moment so that the boy stays in France and obtains French papers”, had declared the baker Ravacley to the dpa news agency earlier in the week.

Protection of minor migrants

The apprentice had been working for the “Huche a Pain” bakery in Ravacley since September 2019, but was threatened with deportation after turning 18 and therefore lost his protections as a minor.

Traoré had left Guinea and crossed the Mediterranean Sea in an inflatable boat at the age of 16. He arrived in France as an unaccompanied minor.

Stéphane Ravacley was not tempted to break his fast despite owning a bakery | Photo: AFP / Sébastien Bozon

Baker devoted to the week-long fast

Before Traore received residency papers, Ravacley said other than soup he had not eaten for over a week, losing eight kilograms of body weight. He said he had initially planned to continue his political fast until January 26, when a final decision was initially due on the apprentice’s appeal against the case in a local court.

“I am extremely tired, but I can get by,” he told the French AFP news agency, adding that he had only received vitamins in hospital.

Read more: French baker on hunger strike to protest the expulsion of his apprentice

Celebrity Support

An online petition for the apprentice has been signed by more than 240,000 people and has caught the attention of various celebrities such as actor Omar Sy and Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard.

In an open letter to French President Emmanuel Macron, they said: “You cannot act so ruthlessly towards a French national, who is willing to put his health at risk to defend humanist values ​​like freedom, equality and brotherhood ”.

During his hunger strike, baker Stéphane Ravacley made a commitment to hire his apprentice as a full-time employee once his apprenticeship is over.

French actress Marion Cotillard was among the many who supported Ravacley’s cause | Photo: photo-alliance

The French Minister of Labor told the AFP that unaccompanied minors who undergo vocational training can continue to work in France even at the age of 18 – but adds that the case of Laye Fodé Traoré poses a problem.

According to Traore’s lawyer, there were initially doubts about the authenticity of his identity papers. These concerns seem to have been allayed in the meantime.

with the AFP, dpa

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