Rabat – A group of northern Moroccan women affected by the COVID-19-induced economic crisis and the border shutdowns with the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla received funding for income-generating projects as part of a support program for women in difficult situations.
The Culture House (Maison de la Culture) in Fnideq, northern Morocco initiated a ceremony on Wednesday convening 19 girls and women who used to transport goods in and out of the Spanish enclaves to sell.
Morocco’s government cited severe effects on the country’s economy, closing the border crossings.
The situation heavily impacted the region’s people, prompting action from local activists in an attempt to tackle the crisis and the widening of social gaps.
Wednesday’s announcement at the ceremony is part of the M’diq-Fnideq Prefecture efforts to combat the crisis.
The beneficiaries will receive funding from Morocco’s National Agency for the Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC), with a global budget of MAD 450,000 ($49,655) with which to finance women’s projects in the support program.
Regional Director of ANAPEC Abdelhalim Fatihi said that the beneficiaries are the second group to receive support from the program.
Two weeks ago, around 28 girls and women also received checks to finance their projects as part of Morocco’s “Emerging Regions” program.
“These beneficiaries submitted their requests to the integrated economic initiatives platform of Fnideq, after which they benefited from the support of ANAPEC, and today they obtain the funding granted within the framework of this program,” the ANAPEC official explained.
The majority of beneficiaries are providers for their family, with income-generating and job-creating projects in different sectors, including traditional and modern sewing, and baking.
In February, ANAPEC announced the decision to distribute coworking contracts after work activities were suspended due to COVID-19.
The women received contracts for jobs in different fields, including textiles.
Morocco closed border crossings 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 women “mules” who would transport goods from the Spanish enclaves to Morocco for business.
Citing severe effects on the country’s economy, 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 – €730 million.
He said in February 2019 that Morocco was forced to turn to “radical” solutions to “permanently” put an end to contraband border crossings with Melilla and Ceuta.