According to the French Minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin, there are more than 16,000 unaccompanied minors from Morocco and Algeria living in France.
Rabat – Morocco and France signed on Monday a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the legal framework of unaccompanied minors in France.
Morocco’s Minister of Justice Mohamed Benabdelkader and his French counterpart Eric Dupond-Moretti signed the agreement with the aim to establish a process for managing unaccompanied minors in France.
The agreement also intends to enable French juvenile magistrates to have a better understanding of this demographic in order to take appropriate measures that serve their interests.
Dupont-Moretti said the protection of unaccompanied minors is a common priority of France and Morocco.
He thanked Moroccan authorities “for the precious help” they have given France, especially in terms of the identification, “because without identification, no legal action is possible.”
Thanks to effective cooperation with Morocco, French authorities were able to identify adults who unlawfully declared themselves as minors, he added.
Dupond-Moretti emphasized the efficiency of Moroccan authorities’ handling of France’s requests, and Benabdelkader described cooperation between the two countries in the field of justice as “well-structured” and able to constantly adapt to “new situations.”
French Minister of Interior Gerald Darmanin said in September that the number of unaccompanied minors in France from Morocco and Algeria is estimated at 16,000, many of whom live in large cities such as Paris and Bordeaux.
The presence of unaccompanied minors is controversial in France, with far-right figures such as Eric Zemmour claiming foreign-born youths who travel alone to Europe are “rapists,” “murderers,” and “thieves.”
Morocco is an active partner of France in the fields of security and migration. In 2018, Morocco’s Ministry of the Interior signed an agreement with its French counterpart allowing Moroccan agents to investigate the streets of Paris for unaccompanied Moroccan minors.
With the number of Moroccan minors in France still high, the two countries are stepping up efforts to address the issue.
In an interview with French news outlet Le Telegramme in September, French politician Florian Bachelier said discussions are ongoing between President Macron and King Mohammed VI Morocco “regarding the creation of a training, care and accommodation center in Morocco to directly support them in their country.”
He holds the belief that Morocco must tackle the source of the issue, saying in June that unaccompanied minors represent a unique challenge for France “because they have been drawn into international drug trafficking networks, and some of them have been involved in robberies and rapes.”