Rabat - Morocco’s deputy minister in charge of African cooperation has stressed that Morocco views immigration as a gain rather than a threat.
Rabat – Morocco’s deputy minister in charge of African cooperation has stressed that Morocco views immigration as a gain rather than a threat.
Jazouli made the remarks at this year’s Forum of African Women Journalists in Casablanca on Friday, October 26.
Titled “African Migrations, an Opportunity for the Continent, a Responsibility for the Media,” the forum discussed images often associated with human flows across and from Africa.
At issue was also the responsibility of African media and political leaders to rise to the persisting challenge of African mobility. Meeting the challenges includes countering stereotypes and giving a balanced account of the reality of immigration, panelists concurred.
While echoing the sentiment of stereotype-countering, Jazouli emphatically spoke of Morocco’s pan-African outlook in dealing with migration. He said that Morocco does not subscribe to the approach of countries that perceive migrants as threats to social and cultural identity.
“Study after study have established that migrants play a vital role in sustaining the economy and society of their host countries,” Jazouli said. In countries that have historically relied on the flow of people, he explained, the importance of migrants “is palpable in all sectors.”
But, the Moroccan official maintained, in times of doubt and crisis, “Migrants quickly become scapegoats. They are unjustly and sometimes shockingly, accused of threatening social stability and national identity.” Migration and security go hand in hand in a number of countries.
Morocco, however, wishes to “reverse the current trend.” As Morocco goes beyond the “migration as insecurity” trend, its engagement with migration-related matters is to help “deconstruct stereotypes” and actively contribute to the emergence of a prosperous and respected Africa.
Committing to an African agenda
At the 30th AU summit in January this year, King Mohammed VI presented his “African Agenda on Migration,” a fulfillment of his duties as the chair of the body’s policy framework on migration. The agenda prescribed cohesion and “unity of action.”
Referring to the AU agenda on migration, Jazouli said: “The goal of the agenda is to propel Africa into a paradigm that sees migration as an opportunity for economic growth and a chance for the future of our continent. The creation of an African observatory on migration is consistent with that logic.”
The mission of the observatory, Jazouli noted, is to define an African framework to “understand, anticipate, and act.”
Jazouli’s comments come at a time when Morocco is being accused of racially profiling and discriminating against its growing sub-Saharan population.
Gadem, a human rights advocacy group, recently published a report that pointed an accusatory finger at Morocco’s treatment of irregular migrants. According to the report, Moroccan police violently cracked down on migrants in northern Morocco, “gratuitously” expelling them in thousands.
“All the testimonies we recorded spoke of violence and mistreatment,” a Gadem representative said at a press conference earlier this month in Rabat.
Others have suggested that Morocco’s unprecedented brutalization of irregular sub-Saharans has its origins in the recently-signed Morocco-EU deal on migration. As Brussels has pledged €70 million to Rabat to help secure EU borders, Morocco had to keep its end of the bargain.
But Jazouli was insistent on the pan-African foundation of Morocco’s immigration policy.
Dismissing the narrative that Rabat’s migration policy is grounded in agreements with external partners, he said, “Morocco’s strategy with regards to migration sought to break away from any external diktat … Morocco’s national strategy [on migration] falls within the framework of the global compact on migration and the African agenda.”