French baker on hunger strike to protest deportation order

Besançon (France) (AFP) –


Vowing not to be tempted by his own baguettes or cakes, a French baker has begun a hunger strike in eastern France to protest the planned deportation of his young Guinean apprentice.

Despite the constant temptations found in his "Huche a Pain" bakery in the town of Besancon, Stephane Ravacley says he has not eaten since midnight on Sunday and will continue in order to fight for his employee.

"My doctor tells me I'm in a fragile state, but I don't care. I know I'm right," the 50-year-old told AFP, adding that he has a history of blood circulation problems in his lungs.

Ravacley has spent more than a year training his apprentice -- "a good kid" -- whom he took on as a teenager in September 2019 after he had arrived in France as an unaccompanied minor.

But having recently turned 18, the young Guinean has been informed he faces being sent back to his homeland in West Africa.

The mayor of Besancon, Anne Vignot, has written to Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin asking for clemency, saying in her letter that "the desire to expel this future baker is incomprehensible".

His appeal against the deportation order will be heard on January 26 at a court in Besancon.

In 2019, France deported around 24,000 people. Around 140,000 people were given refugee status, including 5,000 from Guinea, while 113,000 foreigners gained French nationality, according to figures from the French interior ministry.