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

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The 18-year-old Guinean apprentice of a French baker was granted residency in France after a campaign of protest against his deportation attracted worldwide attention and the baker had to be hospitalized during a hunger strike.

A French baker’s passionate campaign to save his Guinean apprentice Laye Fodé Traoré from deportation ended in victory, he told the French news agency. AFP Thursday. The Guinean obtained French nationality.

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

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 had started his strike on January 3, when he heard of the threat 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.

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

The apprentice had left Guinea crossing the Mediterranean Sea in an inflatable boat at the age of 16. He arrived in France as an unaccompanied minor.

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

Baker feels weak after a week of fasting

Ahead of the victory announcement, Ravacley said other than soup he hadn’t eaten for over a week, losing eight pounds of body weight. He had indicated that he planned to continue his political fast until January 26, when a decision was to be made on the apprentice’s appeal against the case in a court in Besançon.

“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. Ravacley said he also had a history of problems with the blood flow to his lungs.

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 the case has also caught the attention of various celebrities such as actor Omar Sy and Oscar-winning French 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 prepared to put his health at risk in the defense of humanist values ​​like freedom, equality and Brotherhood “.

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

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

Assessment of identity papers

According to the apprentice’s lawyer, there are doubts about the authenticity of his identity papers. However, the Guinean Embassy in Paris has meanwhile undertaken to cooperate and assess the authenticity of the documents. If the documents are found to be true, it is hoped that Laye Fodé Traoré will win his case.

The mayor of Besançon, Anne Vignot, wrote to the French Minister of the Interior Gerald Darmanin to ask for leniency in the case, saying that “the desire to expel this future baker is incomprehensible”.

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

With the AFP, dpa

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