Third Eye

Morocco won’t give migrants trafficking gangs a chance

Friday, July 1st, 2022 08:20 | By
Illegal migrants near the City of Nador in Morocco. PHOTO/Courtesy
Illegal migrants near the City of Nador in Morocco. PHOTO/Courtesy

On June 25, an assault by illegal migrants near the City of Nador, northeast of Morocco, resulted in the death of 23 migrants and the injury of 76 others—some of whom are still under observation in the hospital. During the assault, 140 law enforcement officers were also injured.

According to the Director of Migration and Border Surveillance at the Morocco Ministry of Interior, Khalid Zeroulai Wali, on Friday (June 24), local authorities had intervened in Nador to stop the violent assaults perpetrated by African migrants who attempted to cross the border to reach the enclaves of Ceuta and Mellila.

People fleeing poverty and violence sometimes make mass attempts to reach Melilla and another Spanish territory on the North African coast, Ceuta, as a springboard to continental Europe. This exposes them to vagaries of migrant trafficking networks.

This human tragedy has demonstrated the extreme danger and violence of migrant trafficking networks that don’t fear to take risks with a total denial of the sanctity of people’s lives. The networks are making use of schemes of great violence during the planned quasi-military attacks perpetrated by assailants with militia profiles and former militaries from destabilised and conflict countries.

Moroccan authorities deplore the violent assaults, which they believe were pre-planned by well-executed trained leaders who attacked armed forces with machetes, sticks, stones and knives.

The authorities will pursue a merciless mechanism against the networks and reinforce their cooperation with partners in the framework of shared responsibility and the countries’ major contribution to regional security. The government reiterates its commitment to reinforcing the anchoring of its migration governance that is humanistic and solidarity-based to protect vulnerable migrants and victims of trafficking networks and will do all it can to impede those criminal networks from diverting the noble dimension of migration.

The vision of migration governance is articulated in the National Strategy of Immigration and Asylum (SNIA), initiated in 2013 under the Royal Vision of his Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, who had consecrated at its core, an inclusive and solidarity-based approach in line with the African vocation of the Kingdom.

It is thanks to the remarkable migration policy that has been welcomed internationally and in the African continent that Mohammed VI has been nominated Champion of Migration in Africa. In addition, thanks to SNIA, 50,000 African migrants have had their administrative status regularised in Morocco, and benefitted from a social and economic integration with full access to job opportunities, education and health services with equal treatment with Moroccan citizens. 

The initiative has prompted two strong actions that have consolidated the continental governance of migration—the African Agenda for Migration and the African Observatory on Migration—which will contribute to enlightened governance of Migration in the continent.

Since 2016, Morocco has pushed and stopped 145 assaults around Ceuta and Melilla (with 50 in 2021 and 12 till last May. In the past five years, Morocco has fought and dismantled more than 1,300 trafficking networks (256 in 2021 and 100 till last May). Since 2017, more than 360,000 irregular migration attempts have been aborted (63,000 last year and 26,000 till May).

The human dimension of Morocco’s migration policy has been translated with voluntary returns from which migrants who wished to return to their countries of origin in complete respect of their dignity and human rights have benefited. Indeed, since 2018, more than 8,100 African migrants have benefitted courtesy of the Ministry of Interior facilitation. I can’t forget to mention the IOM Voluntary return program which in 2021 allowed the return of 2,400 migrants to their homes and more than 1,100 in 2020, with the cooperation of ambassadors of African countries who contributed to the identification and the delivery of passes to their citizens.

— The writer is ambassador of the Kingdom of Morocco to Kenya

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