By Anna Jacobs
Rabat – AMERM’s NGO study, Le tissue associatif et le traitement de la question migratoire au Maroc, examines twenty-nine Moroccan non-governmental organizations throughout the country in order to better understand “les acteurs de la societe civile qui ont comme centre d’interet ou comme l’une de leurs preoccupations principales la question migratoire.”
This study is one of the first to examine the question of civil society’s role in the migration debate, however many essential international non-governmental organizations are not included in this study because they do not “operant dans le developpement local et la sensibilisation en partenariat avec des ONGS locales.”
Thus, I seek to paint a better picture of the partnerships in Moroccan civil society by adding international non-governmental organizations such as Medicines sans frontiers, Terre des homes, and Caritas to this analysis because my research has shown that these organizations are essential in providing health services to sub-Saharan immigrant communities.
I also examine the role of unofficial sub-Saharan African associations such as The Collective of sub-Saharan Communities in Morocco and the Council of sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco, as well as the plethora of associations based on countries of origin in sub-Saharan Africa because these organizations, while unrecognized by the state, do play a significant role in raising awareness, in helping members of their communities, and in working with Moroccan NGOs.
For example, the former President of the Council of sub-Saharan Migrants explained to me that, if they want to organize a protest, they work with the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) because they are a state recognized non-governmental organization and can thus apply for a protest permit.
This section will consequently discuss the findings of the AMERM study on Moroccan non-governmental organizations because it does indeed shed light on the strategies and challenges that civil society actors face in Morocco. However I will also demonstrate how this study is incomplete in describing the partnership and coordination in Moroccan civil society and thus reveals an inadequate portrayal of the civil society actors providing assistance to immigrants.
In other words, adding international humanitarian groups, as well as sub-Saharan African associations, will more accurately display the level of coordination among these various actors that play a significant role in supporting sub-Saharan irregular migrants in Morocco. I will discuss what I believe to be the key associations that provide health services to immigrants, as well as the essential organizations that focus on defending their rights in order to demonstrate the allocation of responsibilities among the various associations that support the sub-Saharan immigrant community.
However, the main conclusion of the study seems to mirror Layachi’s analysis in that it claims that the gap between civil society and the state is a factor that limits the efficacy of these actors that support sub-Saharan immigrants in Morocco. The AMERM study focuses on the effect of these groups on actual policy and thus asserts the need for greater dialogue between the state and civil society in the realm of irregular immigration:
La nécessite de créer regroupant plusieurs associations est perçu comme une exigence majeure du tissue associative, le but serait d’avoir un interlocuteur unique et fort capable d’influencer les décisions publiques et de jouir d’une plus grande autonomie face aussi bien aux bailleurs de fonds qu’aux institutions publiques…Force est de constater que la gestion de ce dossier implique également l’intervention de l’Etat dans le cadre de partenariats avec les ONGs. Cela permettrait une meilleure efficacité dans la sensibilisation de la population marocaine et le soulagement des migrants subsahariens ou ceux candidats potentiels à l’émigration clandestine.
In other words, there is a need for greater unity among these civil society actors, as well as a strong intermediary between these actors and the state. It appears that the CNDH is not a factor, which suggests that its role as an interlocutor between civil society and the state, in terms of migrant and refugee’s rights, is not effective.
Moroccan non-Governmental Organizations:
Groupe Antiraciste d’Accompagnement et de Défense des Etrangers et Migrants GADEM (Rabat)
This group is considered one of the most active in terms of providing legal support to irregular immigrants in Morocco. While their approach is more so legal and focuses on advocacy on behalf of the rights of immigrants and refugees in Morocco, they have also partnered with other organizations for more humanitarian projects, such as the Tamkine Center, which provides medical and psychosocial support to pregnant migrant women and looks to increase access to education for the children of sub-Saharan migrants, especially refugees.
The secretary-general is Hicham Rachidi, a widely respected human rights activist, and well known for his support of migrants. This association is not officially recognized by the Moroccan government because of the reference to “racism” in the group’s name, but it is nonetheless known as the most active and independent Moroccan ngo that focuses strictly on the rights of foreigners in Morocco.
Association Marocaine des Droits Humains AMDH (Rabat, Oujda, Nador, Tangier)
This is one of the two principal human rights ngos in Morocco. AMDH is known for its less cooperative approach with the authorities, as compared to OMDH. It was close to the February 20th movement, and it focuses not only on human rights advocacy, as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it also leads the way in terms of debates concerning civil liberties, such as abolishing the law which condemns sexual relations outside of marriage.
It is the oldest human rights association in Morocco and has organized several press conferences on the condition of sub-Saharan immigrants and refugees in Morocco. They condemn the harsh police violence and discrimination that this population faces, and they, along with OMDH, voice these concerns in the Moroccan press. They have over ninety local offices throughout the country.
Organisation Marocaine des Droits de l’homme OMDH (Rabat, Oujda, Nador)
This association is the second prominent human rights NGO in Morocco, but it is more known for its cooperative approach with the authorities, and some claim it has been co-opted by the authorities. However, while its less confrontational approach may draw criticism, it is an official partner of the UNHCR in providing legal support to refugees in Morocco. They house a local office as well as a legal center for refugees in both Oujda and Rabat, however there are questions as to how many refugees they are able to reach out to. Furthermore, this group does not focus on helping asylum seekers with their files for the UNHCR, but rather to provide legal counsel (lawyer, translator, etc.) to officially recognized refugees.
Association Beni Znassen Culture Développement Solidarité ABCDS (Oujda)
This Moroccan NGO is led by Hicham Baraka, another well-known activist for the rights of migrants and refugees. They focus largely on advocacy and denouncing aggressions against the immigrant population around the border areas in Oujda and Nador. They also provide some humanitarian aid in the forests around Oujda and Nador, while also organizing social events to encourage cross cultural exchanges among sub-Saharan migrants and Moroccans. They also pride themselves on their independence and claim that the network of civil society actors that help migrants is marked by more competiveness than cooperation.
This is a Moroccan human rights NGO that focuses primarily on the rights of women and girls and migrants in Tangier. They officially partner with Attawasoul, L’association Mains solidaires, and Association Pateras de la vida. They focus primarily on advocacy and publishing reports on the condition of women and sub-Saharan migrants in Tangier and surrounding areas. They maintain the following objectives:
Exprimer la condamnation de les actes barbares contre migrants subsahariens; Exiger une enquête menée par des observateurs internationaux pour faire la vérité et trouver les responsables de ces graves violations des droits de l’homme; Refuser la militarisation de la question migratoire et exiger la fin de la militarisation des frontières de Ceuta et Melilla; Respecter les conventions internationales sur la protection des droits de travailleurs migrants et de la convention de Genève relative au statut des refugies; Condamner les politiques migratoires de l’UE, qui transforment les pays du Maghreb en gendarmes de la frontière Sud de l’UE, et les rendent complices de ces politiques.
They also organize annual protests in commemoration of the deaths of migrants at Ceuta and Melilla in 2005.
Association Marocaine d’etudes et des recherches sur les Migrations AMERM (Rabat)
This is a research association based at the University Mohammed V- Agdal Rabat and the secretary-general is my research advisor, Professor Mohammed Khachani. They focus on conducting studies and publishing reports on the state of both Moroccan and sub-Saharan migrants. The studies on sub-Saharan migrants were cited in this paper and do indeed represent one of the few comprehensive studies of this population and their living situation in Morocco. They also focused on the relationship between the Moroccan and sub-Saharan populations. They focus largely on social investigations, and, for example, they evaluate the extent of racism and discrimination among the two populations.
However they do not typically address the question of more institutionalized forms of discrimination. This is normally where GADEM’s reports pick up, where AMERM leaves off, in terms of shedding light on the extent of discrimination towards sub-Saharan migrants, both socially and politically. AMERM does, however, affirm the idea that the current security focused nature of Moroccan policy towards irregular immigration derives from the European Union’s “externalization of the migration problem.”
Fondation Orient Occident
This is also an official partner of the UNHCR, and they focus primarily on la scolarite. They offer classes to refugees, migrants, and Moroccans in various areas such as languages, vocational training (IT training, making clothes, cutting hair, etc), yoga, physical exercise, and also psychological support groups. They also emphasize the power of intercultural dialogue and organize music and theatrical festival twice a year called Rabat-Africa. While they work primarily in the social domain, they also take part in occasional humanitarian aid projects such as medical caravans in Rabat or food drives for migrants living in the forests near Oujda.
Association de Lutte contre le SIDA ALCS (Rabat)
This is the largest HIV/AIDS advocacy association in the Middle East-North Africa region, and it was officially approved by the state in 1993, after several years of activity. It’s three primary objectives are: HIV and STI prevention, Medical care and psychological support living with HIV/AIDS, and defending the rights of people living with HIV.
Organisation PanAfricaine de Lutte contre le SIDA OPALS (Rabat)
This is one of the two primary ngos that focus on HIV/AIDS advocacy and medical services. It’s main services are “screening, treatment and medical and psychological follow-up of the persons affected by AIDS, other diseases with an epidemic character, such as Tuberculosis, and advice.”
Service Accueil Migrant SAM (Casablanca)
The main objective of SAM is to support the most vulnerable, disadvantaged migrant women and their children. This translates into a place of reception and listening by offering various activities such as sewing, knitting, cooking, informatics, foreign language courses, income-generating projects—for women and young children. Thus more than 150 women and twenty children were received and referred to one or the other services of SAM.
Organisation Democratique de Travail ODT (Rabat)
This is a Moroccan labor union that was the first to adopt a section devoted to immigrant workers. They recently organized the first conference on the rights of immigrant workers on July 1, 2012. This partnership was coordinated between members of the Council of sub-Saharan Migrants in Morocco and primarily Marcel Amiyoto, a refugee from the DRC and activist for migrant rights. According to another member, this is another strategy to increase their representation in civil society. This represents, as well, the general strategy of sub-Saharan migrant activists and groups’ partnering with Moroccan associations. They seek to increase dialogue with Moroccan civil society and the state.
L’Association Rif des Droits Humains ARDH (Nador)
This group is similar in style to ABCDS, but it focuses on general human rights violations in Nador and surrounding areas, not just among the migrant population. However, due to its geographical location, it has begun to focus on condemning the aggressive deportations and treatment of sub-Saharan migrants near Nador, arguably the most “sensitive” area for migrants and civil society actors because of its proximity to the Spanish borders.
Similarly to ABCDS, it has a rather confrontational association with the authorities and prides itself on its independence. It has a long history of human rights defense in the Rif region. They focus primarily on advocacy and raising awareness of the human rights violations that migrants experience around Nador, so they will occasionally issue statements in the press, sometimes in partnership with ABCDS in Oujda.
l’association Oum El Banine OEB (Rabat)
This association partners with both Terre des hommes and GADEM in the Tamkine center, which focuses on reproductive health and medical and psychosocial support for refugees women, especially those that are pregnant or have young children. This project is also financed by the European Union. The other aspect of this project is to increase access to education for the children of migrants and refugees. They are based in Yacoub El Mansour, a district with a large sub-Saharan migrant population.
Association Marocaine d’Appui a la Promotion de la Petite Entreprise AMAPPE (Rabat)
They offer the following services, as an official partner of the UNHCR:
Advice, counseling and assistance in the development of very small businesses; Financing of Income Generating Activities according to the criteria and procedures of the program…intervention at public services and the Moroccan administration, intensification of development associations.” This ngo focuses on: “Recognized refugees by the UNHCR, adults over the age of 18, refugees with a project feasible for the Moroccan market, refugees who accept the procedures of AMAPPE.
This is another Moroccan ngo that is a UNHCR official partner in terms of helping refugees start businesses and start to build a life in Morocco. The fact that sub-Saharan refugees typically do not benefit from a residency permit because the Moroccan government will not issue them would seem to question the utility of this partnership, since without a residency permit, finding work, let alone starting a business, is difficult.
International organizations (governmental or non-governmental/humanitarian)
United Nations High Commission for Refugees UNHCR (Rabat)
The mandate of the UNHCR is to protect the rights of refugees and to protect their well-being in accordance with Article 1A (2) of the Geneva Convention of July 28, 1951 relative to refugees, which Morocco ratified. The UNHCR is located in Rabat and has partnered with the following civil society actors in order to promote the well-being of refugees in Morocco: The Fondation Orient-Occident(FOO), Action Urgence(AU), AMAPPE, and OMDH.
International Organization of Migration IOM (Rabat, Tangier)
“This is an intergovernmental organization created in 1951 with headquarters in Geneva. Morocco has been a member state since 1998. Following the “accord de siege” between the Kingdom of Morocco and the IOM, established in July 2006(note after the events of Ceuta and Melilla in 2005), an IOM mission was opened in Rabat in January 2007.”
They have offices in both Morocco and Tangier, and their primary goals are “preventing irregular migration, promoting the links between migration and development, and strengthening the capacities of concerned actors for better migration management.” I personally interned with their Program for Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration for irregular immigrants in Morocco. This program was meant for the most precarious of irregular migrants who were looking to return to their country of origin. Since the program’s initiation in 2005, until December 2011, it has repatriated a total of 3,481 irregular immigrants to 32 different countries.
Medecins sans Frontieres MSF (Rabat, Oujda)
MSF Spain works in both Rabat and Oujda, with occasional medical caravans in the forests of Nador. Their primary services are: “intervention with public health administrations, medical care for emergencies and the health of mothers and children, as well as epidemic diseases (HIV, VHB, Tuberculosis) and mental incapacities.” Their office in Rabat focuses on sexual violence and victims of trafficking. When I was interning for IOM, and we received a victim of trafficking, typically from Oujda, they would be taken care of and transported by MSF officials in Oujda and Rabat.
The office in Oujda is crucial in terms of helping migrants access the public health system in Morocco, and they also provide other essential services occasionally such as tents for shelter, blankets, hygiene kits etc. When a migrant woman is pregnant in Oujda, someone from MSF will follow her case and will accompany her to a Moroccan hospital to give birth. Then they will follow up on the health of the mother and the child. They also organize support groups for women and children on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
According to the former Director of the program in Oujda, Sara Magber: “Sub-saharan African migrants are supposed to have access to free health care. But without MSF support, this would be very hard. Exams are free, but the more specialized needs need to be paid for. The care and help depends on who and what hospital in Oujda.” MSF used to have a medical program in Nador, but they had to leave.
However, negotiations are ongoing to restart a program in Nador because the health situation of sub-Saharan migrants in Nador is “by far the worst in Morocco.” However, recent information has revealed that their programs are now due to stop in this year (2013), so many other actors are very concerned of the great gap this will leave, in terms of access to health services for migrants in Morocco.
CARITAS (Rabat, Tangier)
Caritas has a reception center in Rabat which appears to be absolutely essential in supporting sub-Saharan immigrants living in Rabat. When I interned at IOM, we constantly referred immigrants who needed help with medical expenses, checkups, or shelter, to Caritas. They focus specifically on sub-Saharan immigrants and especially women and children. They have a four-fold focus in terms of services:
Medical: assistance of migrants to medical centers and other health services. Social: reception and individual listening advice, emergency assistance and other social assistance, guidance for voluntary return to countries of origin. Educational: non-formal education of children and young adults so they can later integrate into the Moroccan education system or in professional training. Animation work: (hairdressing/beauty/crochet/knitting/ cooking/sewing).
Comité d’Entraide Internationale CEI (Rabat, Oujda)
This Christian based humanitarian association focuses on providing support to sub-Saharan migrants, other foreigners, and Moroccans in the form of advice, financial aid and conditional studying and training, and intervention with Public services and the Moroccan administration. They also organize food drives for sub-Saharan migrants living in the forests in Oujda.
This is a French organization that has been working with Moroccan civil society organizations since 2003. They assert that “European immigration policies have consequences for migrants and refugees in the host country and transit countries,” and have thus supported various associations in Morocco that support sub-Saharan migrants. They organized a regional alliance in 2009 with various civil society groups in the Maghreb and Western Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, and Niger). It also crucially supports the claims of civil society organizations in these countries, vis-à-vis the European Union and their migration policies.
It looks to foster networks between southern and northern countries in terms of civil society and advocacy on behalf of migrants and refugees in order to reform the security oriented policies of the European Union because of the negative effects it has on the human rights of migrants in the European Union, as well as surrounding regions such as the Maghreb.
RED CROSS (Casablanca and Rabat)
They offer the following services: “training of minors in association with Caritas, support during emergency situations such as the events of Ceuta and Melilla in 2005 by distributing blankets, food, health care, etc., first aid courses, and mobile sessions of information and HIV testing.” Furthermore the Red Cross and Red Crescent has also partnered with Moroccan associations, such as AMERM, to sponsor the studies on the relations between sub-Saharan Migrants and Moroccans in order to raise awareness about the migrant population in Morocco and the discrimination they encounter.
TERRE DES HOMMES (Rabat)
They are a global federation with an office in Rabat. They work within the framework of the Tamkine center project in Yacoub El Mansour, which focuses on reproductive health of the sub-Saharan immigrant population. They focus on women, especially female refugees, and their children. The primary services are related to health and psychosocial support through a listening center, health care support, and outreach.
Sub-Saharan migrant associations:
Conseil des Migrants subsahariens au Maroc CMSM (Rabat, Oujda)
This association was the first migrant association created in Morocco, in the forest near the border, after the deaths at Ceuta and Melilla in 2005. They are very advocacy related, but also act as intermediaries between sub-Saharan migrants and Moroccan civil society actors. This group often organizes protests or conferences with Moroccan partners such as AMDH, as well as their recent partnership with the labor union, ODT.
They claim to represent the interests of sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco. Their former president, Camara Laye, is from Guinea and was an extremely important contact throughout my research. They have members throughout Morocco who keep other members and Moroccan associations up to date on any human rights violations or individuals in particular need. They also published a collection of testimonies, in collaboration with various civil society actors in Europe, Morocco, and Western Africa, entitled Paroles d’Exiles in order to raise global awareness about the difficult living conditions of sub-Saharan migrants looking to enter the European El Dorado. This group is also present at press conferences organized by AMDH to discuss human rights violations that sub-Saharan migrants experience.
Le Collectif des Commauntes subsaharienne au Maroc CCSM (Rabat)
This group is different from the Council in that they do not claim to speak for sub-Saharan migrants, but rather just support them. It is smaller, especially after two of its key leaders, Omar Diao and Fabien Yene Didier, both moved in France this year. However, two leaders who live in Morocco, Pierre Delagrane and Souleymane Coulibaly, are very active in supporting the migrant community, in terms of advocacy and social projects. They tend to also help on an individual basis and make themselves available to migrants who need help with their embassies or consulates, similarly to members of the Council.
They have also taken part in educational conferences and partnered with various Moroccan associations in this endeavor, particularly GADEM. They most recently organized a theater and singing workshop for Moroccan and sub-Saharan immigrant youth, with the support of the FOO and other Moroccan ngos, to encourage greater cross-cultural dialogue and understanding between Moroccans and sub-Saharan migrants.
Association de développement et de sensibilisation des Camerounais migrants au Maghreb ADESCAME (France)
The leader of this group is Yene Fabien Didier who moved to France in 2011. This type of association, which is based on country of origin, is common among the sub-Saharan community in Morocco and looks to foster cooperation within communities to support others migrants in need and raise awareness about the migration experience and the rights of migrants in Moroccan context.
Associations des Residents Senegalais au Maroc ARSEREM (France)
This is a similar association that was led by Omar Diao, a very active member of the sub-Saharan community who lived and studied in Morocco for eight years. He also worked for GADEM and Caritas and should be considered as a leading expert on sub-Saharan migration. This association also sponsors cultural events and looks to support other Senegalese migrants in Morocco. Omar Diao was also extremely helpful with my research and provided me with some of my most important contacts with Moroccan and sub-Saharan activists.
Confédération des Eleves, Etudiants et Stagiaires Africains Etrangers au Maroc CESAM
This is an officially recognized association of sub-Saharan African students that organizes athletic, intellectual, and cultural events. They claim that they are apolitical concerning policies about migration, in general. They rather look to support students and interns in Morocco. However they do occasionally organize food and clothing drives for sub-Saharan irregular migrants in Morocco. This group has students from all over sub-Saharan Africa. In my experience many sub-Saharan students support migrants in an irregular situation on an individual basis, whether through consulate support, medical aid, or accompaniment to relevant civil society actors who could support them. The support for migrants in an irregular situation is, according to the president of CESAM, unofficial.
 Khachani, Mohammed, “Le Tissu associative et le traitement de la question migratoire au Maroc,” AMERM, December 2009, p 52.
 Interview with Hicham Rachidi of GADEM, Rabat, January 27, 2012.
 Interview with Professor Kerzazi of AMDH, Oujda, June 19, 2012.
 Interview with Youssef Chemlal, OMDH office in Oujda, June 20, 2012.
 Interview with Mohammed Tanbi, treasurer of ABCDS, ABCDS office in Oujda, June 21, 2012.
 http://chabaka2000.wordpress.com/events/demonstrations/, accessed on July 11, 2012.
 Interview with Boubker EL KHAMLICHI, president of Chabaka, Chabaka office in Tangier, May 28, 2012.
 Interview with Aude Balme, In Charge of Migration Affairs in the Rabat office of La Fondation Orient-Occident, November 28, 2011, and Interview with Saed of the Fondation Orient-Occident office in Oujda, June 21, 2012.
 “Practical Guide for Migrants and Refugees in Morocco,” prepared by Omar Diao and Jean-Claude Charlot, June 2010, p12.
 Ibid, 52, and Interview with A. Etoussi of OPALS, February 20, 2012.
 Ibid, 27.
 Interview with Amadou Balde and Marcel Amiyoto, July 1, 2012 at the First National Conference.
 Interview with Mohammed Tanbi, treasurer of ABCDS, ABCDS office in Oujda, June 21, 2012.
 Interview with Hajar at Centre Tamkine in Yacoub el Mansour, January 18, 2012.
 “Practical Guide for Migrants and Refugees in Morocco,” prepared by Omar Diao and Jean-Claude Charlot, June 2010, p 17.
 Programme de retour volontaire assiste de migrants en situation irreguliere au Maroc et de reinsertion dans leur pays d’origine (AVRR), statistics obtained from Mouloud Kamel, assistant to operation, December 2011.
 “Practical Guide for Migrants and Refugees in Morocco,” prepared by Omar Diao and Jean-Claude Charlot, June 2010, p 45.
 Interview with Sara Magber, Field Coordinator in Oujda, at the MSF office in Oujda, March 28, 2012.
 Interview with David Cantero, Director of MSF-Spain in Morocco, MSF office in Rabat on January 24, 2012.
 “Practical Guide for Migrants and Refugees in Morocco,” prepared by Omar Diao and Jean-Claude Charlot, June 2010, p 23.
 Ibid, 55 and Interview with Hajar at Centre Tamkine in Yacoub El Mansour on January 18, 2012. See also their report on health of women and children at the Centre Tamkine, http://tdh.ch/fr/news/maroc-terre-des-hommes-renforce-les-droits-des-femmes-et-enfants-migrants accessed on July 24, 2012.
 Interviews with Camara Laye(Rabat), Amadou Balde(Rabat), Marcel Amiyoto(Rabat and Nador), and Alpha Omar(Oujda).
 Interviews with Omar Diao(November 19, 2011), Fabien Yene Didier(October 20, 2011), Pierre Delagrange(July 14, 2012), and Souleyman Coulibaly(November 19, 2011)
 Interview with Fabien Yene Didier on October 20, 2011.
 Interview with Omar Diao on November 19, 2011.
 Interview with Wilifrinho Parrain, president of CESAM, February 10, 2012.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Fulbright Program , Morocco World News, nor other affiliated organizations
Anna Jacobs graduated from the University of Virginia Phi Beta Kappa in 2010. She studied Foreign Affairs,Government, and French Language and Literature. She conducted research in 2009 in both Morocco and Algeria for her undergraduate thesis entitled “Sub-Saharan Migration in the Maghreb: the reality of race in Morocco and Algeria.”
To Be Continued …