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IOM DG Swing Makes Official Visit to Morocco

Morocco - On June 1st IOM Director General William Lacy Swing began a two-day official visit to the Kingdom of Morocco at the invitation of the Moroccan Government. He met with senior officials, including Abdel-Ilah Benkiran, the Head of Government, and various Ministers.

During his meeting with Anis Birrou, Minister for Moroccans Living Abroad and Migration Affairs, Ambassador Swing congratulated Morocco on its new, human rights-based approach to migration initiated by his Majesty King Mohammed VI in September 2013.

In particular, Ambassador Swing underlined the crucial role of the three new law proposals (on migration, human trafficking and asylum) and reiterated IOM’s availability to continue providing technical support for an effective implementation on the new migration policy. He also praised Morocco’s leading role in promoting South-South dialogue and cooperation, which is an important aspect of promoting the integration of sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco. 

At a meeting with the Delegate Minister of the Interior, Charki Draiss, Ambassador Swing signed an agreement extending the Ministry’s support for IOM Morocco’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration (AVRR) programme for stranded migrants. He thanked the Minister for Morocco’s excellent collaboration with IOM since the 2007 signing of a Memorandum of Understanding, stressing that the demand for voluntary return and reintegration continues to rise.

Yesterday DG Swing also met with Abdeslam Seddiki, Minister of Labour and Social Affairs; Mbarka Bouaida, Delegate Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation; and  Mahjoub El Haiba, Inter-Ministerial Delegate for Human Rights.

Topics under discussion included IOM’s Strategy for the Mediterranean Crisis, which aim to provide short-, mid- and long-term solutions to respond to immediate humanitarian needs and to address root causes of irregular migration in the region.

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Posted: 02/06/15


Over decades, international migration has shaped Morocco’s society and economy, historically as a country of origin and transit, and more recently also as a destination for an increasing number of migrants. In the wake of the Arab Spring, the Government of Morocco renewed its efforts on key reforms including the promulgation and adoption of a new Constitution in 2011. In the new Constitution three articles (16, 17 and 18) safeguard the protection of basic rights for Moroccans living abroad, including their right to participate in Moroccan elections.

In the context of social unrest and civil conflict within the sub region, the Kingdom of Morocco was able to maintain political stability. However, high rates of unemployment, in particular for the youth, and perceived better socio-economic opportunities in Europe and other Western societies continue to act as push and pull factors for migration – both regular and irregular – from and through Morocco.  Moroccan diasporas account for more than 4 million people residing predominantly in Europe, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the United States and maintaining close social, cultural and economic ties with their country of origin. Today, remittances represent about 7 per cent of Morocco’s GDP and are valued by the Office des Changes du Maroc at 22.7 billion MAD (equal to USD 280 million). The Ministry of Moroccans Residing Abroad and Migration Affairs (MCMREAM), the Foundation Hassan II for Moroccans Residing Abroad and the Conseil de la communauté marocaine à l'étranger (CCME) (latter anchored in Art. 163 of the new Constitution) are active in developing mechanisms to strengthen ties and engage qualified nationals abroad to contribute to the development of Morocco.

Compared to other Mediterranean countries, Morocco suffered less the impact of the economic crisis following the years after 2008, and currently registers one of the highest GDP growth rates within the sub region. This contributed to attract an increasing number of migrants, predominantly from sub-Saharan Arica, living irregularly in Morocco. Many of these migrants are vulnerable to human trafficking and smuggling networks that put at risk their health and well-being. Increased border controls contributed to part of these migrants being stranded in Northern Morocco, turning the country into a destination by default. Many of these irregular migrants try to reach the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, leading to incidents of violence with the Moroccan ‘force auxiliaires’ and the Spanish ‘Guardia Civil’.

Following the report published by the Moroccan Human Rights Council (CNDH) in September 2013, Morocco has shifted from a security-based approach to a more human rights-based migration policy in line with international standards and providing for more protection of migrants in Morocco. To that end, the Government of Morocco currently discusses three draft laws regulating immigration, asylum, and trafficking in human beings, respectively.

In addition, the Government of Morocco is implementing a regularization campaign for irregular migrants throughout the year 2014. According to Government estimates, some 40,000 irregular migrants currently reside in Morocco. Migrants – who fall into one of the six regularization criteria – can apply for a residence permit (one year renewable) which provides them with access to the national labour market and other social benefits available for migrants residing regularly in Morocco. Further to these national initiatives, Moroccan authorities have also intensified their multi- and bi-lateral cooperation with neighbouring European countries, for example, through the EU-Morocco Mobility Partnership.

Last updated:
Main text: August 2014
Facts and figures: August 2014

Population (2015):34.4 million
Area:710,850 km sq
Languages :Arabic (official), Berber, French, Spanish
Currency:Moroccan Dirham (MAD)
GDP per Capita PPP (2014):USD 7,379
HDI Rank (2014):126 of 188
Remittances (2014 estimate):USD 6,962 million
Net Migration Rate (2015-2020):-1.8 migrants/1,000 population
Immigrants (2015):0.3%
Women as a Percentage of Immigrants (2015):49.8%
Population under 15 (2015):27.2%
Adult HIV Prevalence (2014):0.1%

International Organization for Migration
IOM Rabat , Morocco

11, rue Ait Ourir « Pinède » , Souissi, Rabat, Maroc
Tel: +212 (0)5 37 65 28 81
Fax: +212 (0)5 37 75 85 40
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://morocco.iom.int