Rabat - It has been 17 years now since the United Nations adopted December 18 as the International Migrants Day. While this year was marked by the tragedy of slavery in Libya, in Morocco, the soil is oscillating between its three statuses: A country of departure, transit, and reception.
Rabat – It has been 17 years now since the United Nations adopted December 18 as the International Migrants Day. While this year was marked by the tragedy of slavery in Libya, in Morocco, the soil is oscillating between its three statuses: A country of departure, transit, and reception.
Since the implementation of the National Strategy for Immigration and Asylum in 2013, Morocco welcomed around 40,000 migrants from different countries, hundreds of which are young migrants crossing the country to reach the European eldorado.
The 2018 Global Migration Report of the International Organization for Migration puts the spotlight on the complexity of the migration issue and the interdependence of its management.
In the case of Morocco, the report recalls the emigration and migration profile of the country. According to the IOM 2018 report, “Morocco is the second African country to count nationals living abroad, after Egypt.” In fact, they are 5.6 million Moroccans living outside the kingdom.
This migrant-sending country status is not changing any time soon as evidenced by the recent migratory movements of Moroccans from Libya or Turkey to reach Europe.
Morocco is also a transit country, as confirmed by IOM’s 2018 report. “Traditionally, Morocco is a country of emigration that is now more of a destination for migrants from other African countries, who wish to remain for an indefinite period, waiting for a passage to Europe,” observes the IOM.
A 2014 report released by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning, also known as HCP, based on a data from the 2014 General Census of Population and Housing, shows similar findings.
While the survey highlights Morocco’s status as a transit country to Europe for sub-Saharan migrants, HCP also notes that the country has established itself as a host country for immigration.
Out of a population of 33.8 million registered in 2014, the number of foreigners residing in Morocco has reached 84,001 inhabitants.
According to the report, the foreign population in Morocco recorded an absolute increase of 32,566 foreigners compared to 2004. This number represents an overall growth rate of 63.3 percent of the intercensal period.
The number of sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco is estimated at 25,000, reported Human Rights Watch. Most of these migrants were forced to stay in the country as their attempts to cross Europe failed. Some migrants were living in camps near the Ceuta and Melilla borders, waiting for a chance to cross the borders to reach Europe.
Challenges Faced by sub-Saharan Migrants
In 2015, Moroccan authorities raided migrant camps, destroying hundreds of makeshift homes while a nationwide social movement was campaigning for the regularization of many undocumented immigrants.
Most of those migrants in Morocco face documents-related issues as they are forced to stay in the country. The kingdom attempted to solve these issues through launching regularization campaigns for undocumented migrants. The Moroccan National Human Rights Council (CNDH) revealed in November that the second regularization campaign launched in December 2016 will likely process at least 82 percent of the files presented.
However, not all sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco would like to stay.
“They were waiting for a chance to leave the country by sea or by climbing the Melilla border wall,” Bilal Jouhari, the communication manager for Anti-racist Group for the Defense and Assistance of Foreigners and Immigrants (GADEM) told Morocco World News. He added that Moroccan authorities are the ones to blame for bringing them here by force. “Their goal is to leave to Spain and not to stay here.”
Jouhari told MWN that the country did not even try to find them a place that would respect their dignity. “They attacked their camps and brought them inside, but the country did not give them a place that would respect their dignity as human beings.”
For Boubker Largou, President of the Moroccan Human Rights Organization, also known as OMDH, “Morocco should take care of those migrants the way other countries guarantee rights of Moroccan expatriates.”
He told Morocco World News that King Mohammed VI launched the National Policy on Immigration and Asylum (NPIA) in order to protect the rights of migrants in the country.
“The Migrant International Day is also an occasion for us to express our gratitude to all associations and the countries that defend the rights of those migrants, most of whom are escaping violence and wars and inequalities,” added Largou.
“Our country has made progress in the field of migration, but there still more work to do.” OMDH’s president pointed out that Morocco’s efforts are recognized by different international bodies, including the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Largou added that Morocco is not the only country that face migration challenges, but also European countries. “There are many challenges ahead of us, but we should confront them in order to help those people, because it is a priority.”
Asked about Ouled Ziane bus station clashes that erupted between Moroccans and sub-Saharan migrants, Lagrou said that if “those migrants were having their documents in order to work, such problems would not have existed.”
OMDH’s president said that authorities “should have paid more attention to avoid this issue. The number of sub-Saharan migrants in the Ouled Ziane bus stations increased. This made it difficult for authorities to control the issue.”
“Where are those people supposed to go and what they should do about this cold weather? Yes there is a challenge, but we need to find concrete solutions for this challenge.”
He added that Moroccan citizens should help those migrants and treat them in good manners. “If we have 84,000 migrants in Morocco, the Moroccan diaspora consists of 5.6 million Moroccans living abroad.”