“At a time when it was scary and countries closed their doors, Morocco and the king had the courage to regularize migrants,” said Khalid Zerouali to Spanish Eldiario.es.
Rabat – In an interview with Eldiario.es published on August 11, Khalid Zerouali, director of immigration and border surveillance at the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior discussed Morocco’s immigration policy.
Zerouali started by highlighting how “border security is the responsibility of all countries; all countries must contribute to make the fight against cross-border crime an effective fight.”
Answering a question on Moroccan-Spanish collaboration on migration, he described the two countries’ relationship as “exemplary” and “a model of cooperation between the south and the north.”
Explaining Morocco’s measures, he said “we work with mixed maritime patrols between the Royal Gendarmerie and the Civil Guard, air and land and cooperate in the exchange of information to fight against [criminal] networks.” He also stressed how “working together creates trust” between countries.
As for European funds allocated to Morocco for better migration control, Zerouali believes that “the €140 million is a start; it will not fix the problem, but it is a welcome gesture.” “We also intend to work bilaterally with Spain and Europe in a long-term program,” he added.
According to the immigration director, the funds are divided into two parts, €30 million of the first €70 million was received in May 2019. By the end of summer, Morocco will receive two separate grants of €10 million.
“The remaining €70 million includes €30 million from the International Center for Migration Policy Development [ICMPD] and €40 million from the Agency of Spanish Cooperation,” says Zerouali.
“We have explained the need for material, and thanks to these organizations we will be able to acquire that material,” he further added.
The migrant crisis in Europe
Eldiario.es also asked the director about Ceuta’s new border fences. He clarified that “it is a project that began in 2016 following an evaluation which concluded that the devices had to be improved.” “The improvements will be not only in [the border fence with] Ceuta, but gradually throughout the country,” says Zerouali.
For Zerouali, such changes are necessary, especially as Morocco suffers greater migratory pressure after the route through Libya was closed due to conflicts.
“Part of what is happening in the region is the combination of a series of factors stemming from the migration crisis in Europe in 2013 and 2014,” says Khalid Zerouali.
Stressing Morocco’s role in the migration crisis, Zerouali affirmed that “at a time when it was scary and countries closed their doors, Morocco and the king had the courage to regularize migrants.”
He further enumerated Morocco’s achievements in the matter saying that “50,000 who have a residence card are entitled to free health same as Moroccans…we have hosted 9,000 to 10,000 children and about 1,200 regularized migrants are studying vocational training courses.”
“We have granted between 7,000 and 8,000 university scholarships, and we collaborate with many NGOs that work in immigrant insertion,” he continued.
Zerouali also pointed out that “the reality is that we have done a lot. We cannot do more than we do, not even for Moroccans. We are not a rich country.”
On the issue of child repatriation, Zerouali stated that “together with Spain, we work for the best interests of minors.” “We are a responsible country prepared to welcome these children, if they are truly ours, we must first identify them to make sure they are Moroccans,” he explained.