The Platform

Refugees like these are a common sight plying the waters of the Mediterranean for a safe harbor. (Jim Forest)

Often ignored in discussions about refugees and asylum seekers are countries like Morocco that bear the burden largely alone.

Strategically positioned at the nexus of continents, Morocco has become both a terminal and a conduit for migrants from the diverse countries of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, each carrying the aspiration to traverse into Europe.

Many among these migrants, hailing primarily from the western swathes of the African continent, are propelled to Moroccan lands by the pursuit of enhanced economic prospects, the promise of employment, and the undying dream to transcend the confines of poverty that mark their nations of origin.

In the urban fringes of major Moroccan cities, migrants, encompassing refugees and asylum seekers, carve out existences within informal settlements. These groups are frequently etched with the stark outlines of trying living conditions.

The challenges that beset migrants in Morocco are manifold: they grapple with the specter of exploitation, and discrimination, and sometimes, they are ensnared by the tentacles of human rights abuses. A dearth of legal recognition renders them susceptible to the caprices of employers.

In collaborative endeavors with a constellation of international organizations and nation-states, Morocco endeavors to sculpt migration flows, strengthen border surveillance, and weave safety nets for migrants through initiatives such as the establishment of reception centers and the implementation of regularization programs.

The National Strategy on Immigration and Asylum (SNIA), unfurled by the Moroccan government in 2013, encapsulates the nation’s commitment to a harmonious approach to managing the intricate ballet of migration.

This strategic blueprint aspires to strike a balance between safeguarding national security interests and upholding the sanctity of migrant rights. It accentuates regularization initiatives, the importance of societal integration, and the spirit of collaboration with nations from which or through which migrants flow.

Morocco’s campaigns for regularization seek to illuminate the path to legality for migrants dwelling within its realm, thereby affording them the dignity of basic service access and the right to labor.

The nation has augmented its border enforcement mechanisms, especially in the northern precincts frequented by Europe-bound migrants. Its collaboration with European counterparts, including Spain and France, has enhanced Morocco’s capacity for migration oversight and security measures.

While Morocco has charted a course toward extending protections to refugees, the sufficiency and effectiveness of these mechanisms often fall under scrutiny. The SNIA underlines the critical need for a comprehensive refugee protection apparatus that aligns with international conventions.

Through bilateral treaties, particularly with Spain, Morocco has sought to unravel the complexities of migration, encompassing sensitive matters such as the repatriation of those who have traversed borders irregularly.

Morocco’s participation in a gamut of regional and international dialogues and initiatives echoes its commitment to migration management and asylum. Collaborative ties with bodies like the IOM and UNHCR are indicative of a concerted effort to foster a coherent response to migration challenges.

The SNIA champions the ethos of migrant integration, proposing pathways to education, healthcare, and economic participation for those within the embrace of legalized status, facilitating a symbiosis between migrant contributions and the societal fabric of Morocco.

Confronting the twin menaces of human trafficking and smuggling, Morocco remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding migrants from the perils of illicit passage, upholding the integrity of the quest for safer, regulated migratory routes.

The evolution of Morocco’s migration policies is not static; they are continually reshaped by the evolving political, economic, and social landscape.

To remain au courant with the latest evolutions in Morocco’s migration stratagems, authoritative government publications, international organization reports, and reputable news outlets are indispensable resources.

The SNIA is the embodiment of Morocco’s concerted efforts to navigate the complex arena of migration and asylum. With its origins in 2013, the strategy is an evolving narrative, adapting to shifts in policy and humanitarian imperatives.

Khalid Cherkaoui Semmouni is a Professor of Political Science and Director of the Rabat Center for Political and Strategic Studies.