Morocco cited economic impacts to shut down crossing points with the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.
Rabat – Approximately 700 Moroccan women will benefit from work contracts after their working activities were suspended for several months due to COVID-19.
State media reported on an agreement between provincial authorities and the National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC).
The two parties concluded employment contracts in favor of women affected by COVID-19-induced economic crisis and the shutdown of the crossing point with the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.
The agreement was part of the implementation of the integrated program of economic and social development of the prefecture of M’diq-Fnideq and the province of Tetouan in northern Morocco.
Around 107 of the women have so far signed their employment contracts. The contracts will secure job opportunities for women in an industrial unit specializing in textile recycling, the Agency for the Promotion and Development of the North (APDN) announced.
The agency expects the number of contracts to reach 700 during this week.
The contracts will offer women jobs in different industrial zones, including the “Tetouan Park” economic activity zone, and 400 work contracts in two companies in Tetouan and Tangier.
The companies operate in textile and clothing industries.
Due to the urgent nature of the operation, employers will provide the beneficiaries of the program with an advance on wages.
“Other employment initiatives are in progress as part of the efforts to promote the economic recovery of the province of Tetouan and the prefecture of M’diq-Fnideq,” the APDN said.
Morocco closed crossing borders with the Spanish enclave of Melilla before the emergence of COVID-19, while it suspended access to the Ceuta border Tarajal II gate on October 9, 2020.
The decision suspended the activities of hundreds of women “mules” who used to carry goods in and out of the Spanish enclave to sell.
The government cited severe effects on its economy to explain the closing of the crossing borders.
In February 2019, the director-general of the Moroccan Administration of Customs and Indirect Taxation Nabyl Lakhdar estimated the value of the products entering Morocco through the Ceuta border between €550 million and €730 million.
Lakhdar stressed that Morocco was forced to turn to “radical” solutions to “permanently” put an end to contraband border crossings with Melilla and Ceuta.”
The move caused uproar among locals, many of whom make a living through carrying goods from the Spanish enclaves.
Fewer protests restricted by COVID-19 emerged in northern Morocco recently to express outcry due to the economic crisis.
The protests came amid the rise in unemployment rate across the country.
Recent data from the High Commission for Planning (HCP) estimated the number of unemployed people at around 1.3 million. The number represents an increase of 29% compared to 2019.
The statistics show that unemployment moved from 9.2% last year to 11.9% in 2020, showing a remarkable increase.
The unemployment rate increased by 2.9 points to 10.7% for men and 2.7 points to 16.2% for women.