The study said that North African governments in the Maghreb must invest more efforts to “ensure a ‘better life’ for youth.”
The European dream has been a goal for many young people living in the Maghreb region, including Moroccans. The study said that Maghreb migrants in European countries often share posts on social media, depicting Europe as a safe place and with better socio-economic opportunities than their home countries.
“Through daily or weekly video blogs and other social media posts, Maghrebi emigres in Europe offer a mostly romanticised representation of the continent,” said ISS.
Migrants returning for vacations in their home countries also represent Europe as a dream land. “Through social media this message reaches a bigger pool of youth, including those with little first-hand exposure to the European diaspora,” reads the study.
ISS shows that access to the internet has become easy in Maghreb countries, especially in Tunisia, Morocco, and Algeria. “Sixty-three percent of Moroccans and Tunisians, and 53% of Algerians are online, with many using inexpensive smartphones to connect.”
Focusing on internet access in Morocco, the study found that the average Moroccan spends nearly three hours on the internet daily.
Social media, according to ISS, also offers migrants ways to reach Europe through lists of migration routes, crossing points to avoid, prices for “different forms of crossing, useful cover stories, and information on the degree and form of counter-migration enforcement used by security forces in both the Maghreb and Europe.”
“Posts also cover strategies on how to regularise one’s legal status – or, at the very least, avoid deportation – once in Europe.”
The study quoted a Moroccan video, which advised possible irregular migrants to “claim to be underage, claim to be Libyan, claim to be looking for your father” once in Europe.
“In the videos’ comments sections, the information becomes more specific: phone numbers of smugglers and the specific dates, times and locations of groups planning to cross. This information is generally unfiltered and uncensored, and is continuously updated and corrected,” warned the study.
ISS called on Maghreb countries to engage and cooperate to solve migration issues in the region.
“Rather than seeking to stymie social media discussions on migration, governments should see this as a valuable opportunity to understand the factors and frustrations that drive their citizens to depart for Europe.”
The study confirmed that migration content is “likely to continue to grow rapidly” on social media since the number of Maghreb youth migrating to Europe “continues to increase.”
“This will create an expanded group of network influencers ready to share their stories and offer advice.”