Moroccan authorities have foiled 366,000 attempts at irregular emigration to Europe over the past five years claims a government friendly daily sourcing ministry stats
Barely a matter of days after human rights groups blast Morocco over its handling of the cross border scramble in June 2022 at Melilla, which resulted in 23 deaths and the more recent boat tragedy off the shores of the Canary Islands which killed 39 and Rabat seems to have responded – although somewhat bizarrely in what some may argue might be a self defeating exercise leaving Rabat licking its wounds after shooting itself in the foot.
According to the state friendly “L’Aujourdhui” Morocco has made “significant efforts in the fight against illegal immigration by adopting a holistic approach” highlighting the latest data from the Ministry of the Interior, the authorities claim they have foiled 366,000 attempts at irregular emigration to Europe over the past five years.
Neither the ministry of interior nor the editors of L’Aujourdhui bother to even face a more obvious question though as to why such a high number of people want to leave the country in the first place which can be undoubtably attributed to an economy in the doldrums, climbing rates of unemployment with young men and food inflation which the government has failed to tackle.
For Rabat, a failed PR and communications strategy has given way to the bigger picture to show that Morocco is tackling its illegal migration problem – not of African migrants – but of its own people.
“In 2022, aborted attempts amounted to 70,781 and 25,519 at the end of May 2023. Rescue at sea has involved around 90,000 migrants over the past five years” the article continues. “In 2022, 12,478 migrants were rescued off the sea. Until the end of May 2023, their number reached 3,150”, claims L’Aujourdhui.
But the article also focuses on the authorities’ work to clamp down on the criminals who organise the trips. “Regarding the dismantling of criminal migrant smuggling networks, the Ministry of the Interior specifies that nearly 290 criminal networks were dismantled in 2022, compared to 117 at the end of May 2023, which brings the total number of these dismantled networks to around 1,500. over the past five years” it claims. “The Moroccan authorities have dismantled 92 criminal networks operating in the organization of illegal immigration. To this is added the arrest of 566 organizers and intermediaries, a figure up by more than 36% compared to 2021. In addition, there is the arrest of 415 organizers of illegal immigration. With regard to the attempts to attack Sebta and Melilia, repelled by the Moroccan authorities, the data of the Ministry of the Interior show about a hundred failed attempts during the last five years”.
In 2022, these assault attempts repelled on the chain-link fences of Sebta and Melilia numbered 16 against a single attempt during the last five months of 2023, thanks to the strengthening of the system to combat irregular migration. In addition, the same source indicates that since 2018, more than 8,100 African nationals have benefited from voluntary returns organized and financed by the Ministry of the Interior, both by air and by land. About 2,400 people returned in 2021 and more than 1,100 in 2020 as part of voluntary returns. It is important to remember that 50,000 migrants have regularized their situation thanks to the exceptional operation to regularize the situation of immigrants in Morocco, held in 2014 and 2017.
The United Nations Migration Agency (IOM) in Morocco has once again commended Morocco for its remarkable commitment to its efforts. During a meeting held Friday in Marrakech on the humanized management of borders within the framework of the Rabat Process, the head of mission of the IOM in Morocco, Laura Palatini, highlighted the “far-sighted” and “innovative” approach of Morocco in terms of managing the migration issue. She highlighted the major steps taken by Morocco in recent years in terms of migration management. She cited the establishment, 10 years ago, of the National Strategy for Immigration and Asylum (SNIA), while qualifying it as an “unprecedented policy”. Ms Palatini insisted on the importance of cooperation in migration management.