Last Update 0:25
Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Morocco unveils scheme to recognise illegal immigrants

Migrants already recognised as asylum seekers with UNHCR will by default be given residency rights in Morocco; same treatment expected to follow suit for 25,000-40,000 illegal immigrants

AFP , Tuesday 12 Nov 2013
Share/Bookmark
Views: 578
Share/Bookmark
Views: 578

Morocco has unveiled details of an "exceptional operation" to give official papers to some of its 25,000-40,000 illegal immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, many of whom hope to reach Europe.

The scheme, unveiled on Monday, is part of a new migration policy which the north African kingdom promised back in September in the face of growing international criticism.

"The exceptional operation to regularise the situation of foreigners residing illegally in Morocco" will be rolled out throughout next year, Interior Minister Mohamed Hassad and Migration Minister Anis Birou told a press conference in Sale, near Rabat.

Under the new scheme some 850 immigrants recognised as bona fide asylum-seekers by the UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) will automatically be given legal residency rights, according to Moroccan officials.

A list of criteria will be drawn up for others hoping to be considered for the same treatment. The key tests for legalised residency, taking into account the number of years spent in Morocco, the legal status of a spouse or parents, employment record and medical history.

The "avant garde" programme is in response to the recent waves of illegal immigrants, said Hassad.

He added that between 25,000 and 40,000 clandestine immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa were currently in Morocco.

Human rights groups say the migrants are brought to Morocco from other African countries by traffickers and camp in the wild waiting for a chance to cross into the Spanish territories of Melilla and Ceuta, on the north African coast.

These are the European Union's only land borders with Africa.

Others try to reach Spanish soil -- or Italy or Malta -- by sailing across the Mediterranean in makeshift vessels.

Melilla, which has 80,000 inhabitants, is a key crossroads for migrants who try to slip through to Europe from neighbouring Morocco.

In a bid to ward off regular charges by hundreds of migrants, Spain announced last week it had begun installing barbed wire and "anti-climbing" mesh at points along the 11-kilometre (seven-mile) border.

Morocco's planned measures "arise from a strong wish expressed by the king," Hassad said.

The new plan was first announced in September after Morocco's National Human Rights Council (CNDH) issued a report calling for "a radically new asylum and immigration policy," to which King Mohamed VI responded by admitting "legitimate concerns".

Those concerns had been rising amid reports of racist violence.

Morocco is the closest African country to mainland Europe, separated by the Strait of Gibraltar and just 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Spain at its narrowest point, making it one of the key smuggling routes for illegal migrants crossing into Europe.

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.