#Covid_19Foreign PolicyIrregular Migrants and Coronavirus: A Double Suffering

Despite the significant decline in the number of illegal immigrants to Europe, which decreased due to the health emergency, the irregular migration for those coming from sub-Saharan Africa has not decreased in spite of the restrictions imposed on inter-city movement
Mohammed Karim Boukhssass Mohammed Karim Boukhssass27/09/2023212112 min


Despite the significant decline in the number of illegal immigrants to Europe, which decreased due to the health emergency, the irregular migration for those coming from sub-Saharan Africa has not decreased in spite of the restrictions imposed on inter-city movement.





On June 18th, 2020, Coast Guard of the Royal Moroccan Navy rescued, off the Mediterranean Sea, 93 irregular migrants[1] from sub-Saharan African countries[2], who were on board of unseaworthy boats. Among the migrants were fifteen women and a number of minors and children. Meanwhile, Spanish authorities said that 986 sub-Saharan migrants had entered Spain between mid-March and May 3rd[3], despite Morocco’s closure of its borders since March 12th[4], due to COVID-19 precautionary measures. Moroccan authorities also thwarted irregular migration operations during the lockdown months, including the interception, between 2 and 4 May[5], of 157 persons, most of whom from sub-Saharan Africa, off the Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic coast while attempting to migrate in an irregular manner. Likewise, authorities thwarted, on June 14th, the departure of irregular migrants (undisclosed number) towards the Canary Islands on a boat in the city of Tarfaya (South). 37 of them tested positive for Covid-19 virus[6].

These data show that irregular migration attempts have not ceased despite health emergency measures that are in place in Morocco. Despite a significant decline in the number of irregular immigrants to Europe, which fell by 24 percent compared to the same period in 2019, amounting to a total of 1295[7]immigrants, irregular migration inflows of sub-Saharan Africans has not been curtailed by the  restrictions[8]  on movement within and between cities, due to the health emergency. The latter has been extended five times until September 10th, 2020[9].

Continuing irregular migration operations in light of the state of health emergency – despite the low  numbers of persons attempting to migrate – deepens these migrants’ double suffering. In normal situations, these irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are considered by the United Nations to be a “vulnerable group”[10] that suffers from severe challenges in accessing medical treatment and securing minimum decent living conditions. Add to this the absence of reception centers since the Moroccan government[11] declined to provide them. The Corona crisis has aggravated their suffering in light of declared health emergency measures by the authorities. This further exacerbates their conditions due to the authorities’ refusal to give them a movement permit; thereby, risking arrest while on the move to buy the items they need. In addition, authorities have failed to follow preventive measures when placing them in the detention center. Furthermore, having access to daily sustenance and foodstuffs was difficult as a result of the authorities imposed double “siege”, during lockdown, on the camps in which irregular migrants reside. As such, they restricted entry to and exit from the camps and precluded civil society organizations from accessing the camps in order to deliver food and medical assistance[12] to them. Authorities also displaced migrants from the main cities and border areas, such as the Erkman Center in Nador (northeastern Morocco), and sent them away to southern cities, (such as Marrakesh, Tiznit, Beni Mellal, and the likes[13]). This forced displacement exacerbates their vulnerability, their social integration endeavors going back to square one forcing them to set off again towards the cities and regions from which they were displaced[14]. Irregular migrants from African countries, thus, go around revolving doors that do not open on the hope of stability for them.

This paper focuses on analyzing the effects of declaring a state of health emergency on irregular migrants in Morocco through two sections: The first deals with the suffering of irregular migrants in Morocco during normal circumstances, the second with suffering during COVID-19 pandemic.


1- Context and Distribution Map

Before analyzing the challenges faced by irregular Sub-Saharan migrants in Morocco, it is important to depict a broad picture about the phenomenon, as Morocco has become, in recent years, a country of origin, transit, and destination of migrants. Therefore, the dynamism of irregular migration has not stalled despite Morocco’s enactment, in 2014, a new policy on migration and asylum, aimed at managing the influx of immigrants and facilitating their integration into the Moroccan society while combating human trafficking.

Morocco is an immigration management policy model in the Middle East and North Africa region. This new immigration policy has been implemented through 11 programs and 81 operations that have provided renewed answers to the challenges posed by the issue of migration[15]. One of the results of this policy was the launch of an exceptional campaign to regularize the administrative status of immigrants residing illegally in Morocco. As an outcome, more than 23,000 cases were regularized, representing 83 percent of the total number of applications submitted in the first phase in 2014, and nearly 20,000 applications in the second phase between the latter half of December 2016 and the latter half of December 2017[16].

This policy enabled Morocco to propose an African action plan on migration during the 30th Summit of the African Union in Addis Ababa on January 29th, 2018 and chair, jointly with Germany, the Global Forum for Migration and Development, whose eleventh summit was held in Marrakech on December 5th-7th , 2018. Morocco also hosted a United Nations summit for the first time in the city of Marrakech, between December 10th and 11th, 2018, dedicated to the ratification of the Global Compact for Safe Migrations.

Nevertheless, there still exist difficulties hindering the study of the regular migration phenomenon in Morocco. On top of these is the absence of official information that accurately determines the number of migrants and the map of their distribution patterns.

The number of irregular migrants was estimated to range between 25,000 and 40,000, most of whom from sub-Saharan countries, according to estimates by the Ministry of the Interior in 2013[17]. There are so far no updated official statistics on their numbers.

The field survey conducted by the researcher, which included in-depth interviews with immigrants, has revealed that they are mainly distributed in eight cities considered to be major gathering centers: four of them are in the north overlooking the Mediterranean (Tangiers, Tetouan, Al-Hoceima and Nador); three in the center (the capital Rabat, Casablanca, and Fez) and one in the east, Oujda, which is considered the gateway to irregular migrants despite closed borders with Algeria for nearly a quarter of a century.

Despite the attractiveness of these cities to sub-Saharan immigrants for interrelated reasons, their presence also extends to sixteen other cities due to their location as transit areas or because they are the target of displacement operations carried out by the authorities. First and foremost of these cities are Tiznit, Agadir, Inezgane, and Marrakesh, followed by Safi, Beni Mellal, Khouribga, Bengrir, and Qalaat Saraghna. Then come Fkih Ben Salah, Souk Al-Sabt, Ouarzazate, Tinghir, Errachidia, and Zagora. Azilal was the last city to receive displaced migrants in June 2019. Displaced migrants to these cities take a forced respite before starting their return journey to the main cities for the following considerations:

  • Oujda: Thanks to its geographical location on the border with Algeria, this city is the main outlet for irregular migrants as well as a stopover from a long infernal journey from their countries of origin south to Morocco in the far north of Africa. Although the border with Algeria has been closed for a quarter of a century, this situation has not prevented the flow of sub-Saharan migrants. The latter are helped by smugglers operating on the border between the two countries[18] to gain access to the village of Beni Dirar in the Oujda region, 23.2 km away from the Algerian city of Maghnia in the state of Tlemcen in the Algerian west, and 15 km from the border post dubbed “Colonel Lotfi”, by Algerians and “Zouj Bghal” by Moroccans. During the past decade, irregular migrants used to basically settle in three makeshift camps, either adjacent to the Law School, the Al-Masaken neighborhood forest, or the Gala border road in Oujda. This was before the authorities launched a crackdown campaign in 2015 to dismantle these camps, forcing a number of immigrants to leave the city. Others chose to rent apartments near the camps’ perimeter. In order to secure livelihoods, immigrants live on begging and assistance of Moroccan citizens, while Christian immigrants benefit from the aid provided by the Catholic Church in the city.
  • Nador: Despite the authorities’ dismantling, in February 2015, of the camps of irregular African immigrants in the Gourougou forest[19], a then-gathering place for migrants wishing to enter Melilla illegally, less than 16 kilometers away from the occupied city of Melilla, Nador is still the most important reception station for migrants. Likewise, it derives its symbolism from being the last leg for those wishing to gain Europe through the border fence of occupied Melilla. Other forests are still a haven for thousands of immigrants aspiring to storm the fence – an experience that may be repeated over and over again by the same people despite continuing security crackdown campaigns in these forests, which led, in 2018, to the arrest of about 9100 immigrants and the displacement of about 3000 others to the cities of central and southern Morocco, of whom 700 were deported to their countries of origin. Five lives were claimed in the camps due to harsh[20] living conditions.
  • Tetouan: What is said about Nador applies in part to Tetouan, which is less than 40 km away from the border fence of the occupied city of Ceuta. It is the second preferred option for migrants aspiring to migrate by storming the border fence. The Belyounech forest of the M’diq-Fnideq prefecture, 7 km away from Ceuta, had been for years an encampment for migrants, before the authorities organized, in August 2019, a large-scale crackdown campaign and imposed a security cordon on this forest, thereby, preventing gatherings of immigrants or the establishment of new camps.
  • Tangiers and Al Hoceima: These two cities are considered an outlet to Europe through death boats due to their sea shores. However, despite the similarities between them, their differences are of note. Immigrants in Tangiers rent apartments in a number of residential neighborhoods, on top of which is the Boukhalef neighborhood, which has become known among the local population as the Africans neighborhood, amid talk about some of them occupying apartments owned by people living abroad[21]. In Al Hoceima, migrants hide in forests, in agreement with the facilitators (smugglers), waiting for the promised flight. Along the adjacent forests on the road between Salwan and Al Hoceima, a number of migrants gather from time to time whenever the date of a new storming attempt draws closer.
  • Casablanca: The influx of immigrants into this city has begun since the start of the displacement operations from the north into several cities. Casablanca had had the lion’s share since the beginning of 2017. Hundreds of them managed to build a large camp near the Oulad Ziyan bus station linking Casablanca to other cities. However, this site was witness to frequent fires and violent incidents between its dwellers and the residents of the adjacent neighborhoods, the causes of which differed. This led security officers to chase everyone caught outside the iron fence surrounding the camp. The presence of immigrants is not limited to displaced immigrants from northern cities, since the largest city in Morocco attracts irregular immigrants seeking to earn money from begging or carrying goods in its major bustling markets, with the hope of securing enough money to start the transit journey to Europe.
  • Fez: It is an inland city far from sea ports, but it is another haven for sub-Saharan migrants, because it includes the largest makeshift camp that accommodated various African nationalities. It was built on a railway estate, before it was completely dismantled and evacuated in mid-2018[22]. A number of immigrants still reside in the city and rent apartments in some of its popular neighborhoods. They live on begging at traffic lights and at round-about intersections.


Table N° 1 shows the main cities of the distribution of sub-Saharan migrants

Cities with prevalence of sub-Saharan immigrants
Makeshift Camps Residential neighborhoodappartments City
Boukhalef-M’snana Tangier
Boubouri – Gourna – the Old Medina Tetouan
Bolengo – La Carriere – Bakiouia – Lakhmis Akdi – Joutiah Bni Ansar – Selouan – Segangan Nador
Al-Masaken – Andalus – Alquds – Al-Hikma neighborhood (formerly Bouarfa) – University vicinity Oujda
Next to Oulad Zian bus station La Gironde residential neighborhood – Farah al-Salam in the Oulfa neighborhood  – Wlad Zian – Jinan al-Lawz – Al-Moustakbal in Sidi Maarouf – the old Medina Casablanca
Yusufia – Yaqoub Al Mansour – Al Masirah – Al Qamrah Rabat
Lirak – Mehraz – An-Najah – Montflory – Al-Atlas – Labita Ad –Dakarat Fez
Isolated houses with the help of smugglers Al-Hoceima

Reference: Table drawn up by the researcher  


The graphic shows a map of the distribution patterns of sub-Saharan migrants.[23]

Reference: Drawn up by the researcher / Al-Ayam Weekly.


2- Suffering in normal circumstances: the triad of the unknown

Despite the efforts made by Morocco to facilitate the integration of international migrants, irregular migrants suffer from challenges that can be summarized in three basic issues:


First: Challenges related to minimal living standards

Once migrants arrive in Morocco after the arduous journey from more than twenty Sub-Saharan countries, their first concern is to ensure minimum living conditions, such as food, shelter, medicine and clothing. The way to achieve this is often what philanthropists or what some volunteer associations provide in terms of charity. Similarly, they often resort to begging in the streets or to working in scattered and simple trades in the informal sector which contributes over twenty percent of the gross domestic product in Morocco[24].

Although Morocco has become a country of destination for a number of emigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, many consider Morocco a transit point to Europe; that is why, they seek to fulfill the “dream of the grand adventure” leading them to travel long distances to specific outlets in the north or southwest Morocco. These outlets represent, in their views, a crossing bridge to Europe via Spain or the Canary Islands, which puts them in different pathways without necessarily heading straight away to the cities that bring them closer to the migration exit points[25].


Second: difficulty accessing treatment

Since 2003, the government has tried to facilitate access by sub-Saharan immigrants to treatment by enabling them to access primary health services in all health centers, including preventive care and general medical consultations (mother and child health, the vaccination program …). This includes access to all national health programs, such as prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, malaria etc[26]. However, there are great challenges that these migrants encounter in seeking these hospital services due to the fragile Moroccan health system that the Moroccan citizens themselves suffer from.

Some may be lucky enough to have their status regularized benefiting from the initiative to regularize the status of irregular migrants, launched by the government following the  instructions of King Mohammed VI in 2015. As a result, four ministries[27] signed an agreement establishing basic health coverage for regular immigrants that is akin to the RAMED medical aid plan for the needy.

However, this right to treatment entails complications and does not include treatment of all illnesses, even though immigrants suffer from a series of diseases of particular nature[28]. The types of diseases they may suffer from can be divided into two types: general diseases similar to other Moroccan citizens, such as diabetes and high blood pressure, and other diseases related to the way they live, whether in forests lacking the least healthy living conditions or in apartments that are overcrowded. Some rooms in some cities may accommodate about twenty people who sleep, eat, and cook in the same narrow space without any sex segregation, resulting in skin and respiratory diseases[29].

There is a third type of diseases mainly related to their adventurous attempt to break into the border fence, such as fractures and deep wounds that sometimes require surgical procedures.


Third: absence of migrant reception centers

Worsening the suffering of irregular migrants from sub-Saharan Africa is the government’s refusal to build special shelters for them because it does not see this as a solution to the immigration issue[30]. Most of those set out in pursuit of the European dream are vagrants, sleep rough in uninhabited areas, are crowded up in apartments for rent, are homeless or live together in makeshifts camps made up of bamboo, cardboard, and plastic bag tents in the forests.

Since 2015, the influx of immigrants has taken a new turn: sleeping rough in the open or hiding in apartments, due to the tough crackdown on the makeshift camps that were spread out in many cities. They were reduced to only two cities after the dismantling of eight camps in the past five years in seven cities (see Table 2). As for the remaining camps, there are 12 camps in the suburbs of Nador, which include, up to the first week of July 2019, the camps of Bolingo, La Carriere, Bagiouia, Lakhmis Akdim and Joutiah[31].  In Casablanca, there is a camp adjacent to the Oulad Ziyan bus station.

In light of the increasing campaigns to dismantle the camps in recent years, irregular immigrants have resorted to renting apartments in residential neighborhoods, many of which were called “the neighborhood of the Africans,” the number of which stood thirty (see Table 1). Tensions with the authorities sometimes occurred due to some immigrants resorting to illegal occupation of housing belonging to Moroccans living abroad. A large evacuation operation was organized for a number of them in July 2015[32].


Table N° 2 shows the camps that were dismantled by the authorities between January 2015 and October 2019

8 major camps were dismantled between 2015 and October 2019
Details of the dismantlement City / site Date of camp dismantlement
It was a main gathering point for immigrants wishing to break into the border fence of Melilla.  During the dismantling, the Ministry of Interior said that it had succeeded in liberating many migrants, especially women and children, who were detained in squalid conditions by displacement gangs led by foreigners and Moroccans alike. Nador – Gourougou Forest February 12th, 2015
The migrants who were arrested at site were transported by seven passenger buses, before the tents were demolished and all their things seized. Oujda – Near the School of Legal and Economic Sciences August  18th, 2015
Human Rights Watch had previously issued reports two years before its dismantling, and described the human rights situation there as “tragic,” including testimonies of immigrants living there. Nador – SelouaneRegion October  18th, 2017
Its dismantling resulted in the displacement of more than 1,200 migrants, according to human rights organizations estimates. Since then, no camp has been established in the forest that has been a haven for migrants for years. Tetouan – The Belyounech Forest February 2018
The camp housed more than 4,000 immigrants of different nationalities. The authorities were forced to evacuate it after a court ruling was issued to evacuate the property belonging to the National Railways Office. After the migrants had been notified that they had to leave three days before, two-thirds of the migrants complied with the order, while others chose confrontation. Fez – on a property belonging to the National  Railways Office July 2018


According to Agadir’s provincial authorities, the dismantling took place, upon receipt of numerous complaints from the neighboring population. Migrants were transferred, with their consent, to a social shelter in the Anza neighborhood, which meets needed living standards, such as food, water and medical care. Agadir – Near Agadir’s  bus station March 12th, 2019
A partial evacuation took place. The camp was set ablaze and was a scene of mutual violence incidents with the local population . The camp comprises huts made of wooden and cloth poles topped with plastic sheets. Casablanca – Near Oulad Ziyan bus station July 4th, 2019
It was set up in 2016 as a result of displacement campaigns. It was reinforced with plastic, cloth and cardboard tents. Its dismantling did not face resistance from the migrants. Safi – near the main station September 2019


Reference : Drafted by  the researcher.


3- Suffering during COVID-19 outbreak

On March 20th,  2020, the state of health emergency came into effect in Morocco, pursuant to a decree of law issued in the Official Gazette[33]. This stipulated a ban on people leaving their place of residence[34]. Any person’s movement outside their place of residence may only be allowed in case of extreme necessity[35], on the condition that they hold a movement permit[36]. This applies to all citizens and residents of Morocco, including irregular migrants.

Coronavirus pandemic measures aggravated once again the conditions of sub-Saharan migrants, adding insult to injury to sordid conditions they were living in in normal circumstances. Similar to the lockdown imposed by most countries in the world, Morocco also enacted a health emergency decree on March 20th, two weeks after the first confirmed case of an expatriate was recorded. One of the results of this was an almost complete halt of the economy that incurred losses amounting to one billion dirhams (million dollars[37]) per day for a quarter. Relaxing lockdown measures began practically on June 25th with the decision to allow movement between cities[38] as a mechanism for the return to normalcy and the resumption of economic activities.

Field monitoring reveals four main indicators of the worsening situation of irregular migrants during lockdown:

Firstly, the authorities’ failure to give them a movement permit in the same way as Moroccan citizens, which made it difficult for them to move around in order to procure the items they needed. They were thus exposed to arrest if they left their place. Some of the demands did not help convince authorities to hand them the aforementioned permit that guarantees freedom of movement to and from the workplace, purchasing necessary daily commodities in the vicinity, accessing treatment, or procuring medication[39]. However, their suffering differs according to their whereabouts at the moment of declaring the ban on movement between cities. Therefore, those who found themselves by sheer circumstances in major cities were better off than those stranded in the forests and suburbs. The latter category faced additional problems in ensuring food and water due to tight security measures preventing them, at least those who have cash, from going to stores to buy food. Those living in residential apartments, even in large numbers, were better off than the residents of makeshift camps that suffer from all kinds of vulnerability. Access by charities to the camps has become almost impossible, due to strict government measures that prevent all kinds of  gatherings for fear of the spread of the epidemic although camp populations were dependent on charities’ support and on the voluntary medical campaigns that are organized close to their tents. Undoubtedly, leaving the people in these primitive dwellings on their own suffering from hunger, disease, and difficulty in accessing clean water may lead to outbreaks of diseases and epidemics more dangerous than the Coronavirus among them.

Secondly, the authorities’ failure to observe preventive measures during the detention of migrants arrested in the detention center in the Arekman area in Nador, such as social distancing and the provision of masks[40] as authorities resumed their crackdown on migrant camps on April 15th, after a pause spanning the period between March 13th and April 15th.

Thirdly, another indicator, albeit rarely mentioned, which has a significant impact on aggravating the suffering of sub-Saharan immigrants is the downsized work of migrant protection associations during lockdown, either for personal reasons or because they were precluded from distributing aid for security and health considerations. This was evident in Nador due to the distance of the camps from downtown. Perhaps this is what prompted associations working in this field to demand that government authorities immediately intervene to protect migrants from the spread of Coronavirus[41]. It is to be noted that governmental and non-governmental organizations have launched voluntary campaigns intended for irregular immigrants. A case in point are those launched by the National Human Rights Council through some of its regional committees, such as the regional committee in Fez-Meknes, which monitored, in coordination with a local association, the situation of a number of homeless immigrants from sub-Saharan countries. This culminated in the intervention of the local authorities on March 30thto provide shelter for them and allow them to access medical checkup and follow-up. In like manner, contact of the regional committee in Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab with public authorities resulted in providing aid for the benefit of dozens of immigrants unable to secure basic needs during lockdown[42].

Fourthly, the last indicator of the suffering of migrants is their exclusion from benefiting from temporary support for families working in the informal sector affected by the Coronavirus, even though a number of them work in this sector. The aid intended for families that lost their daily income as a result of the lockdown, distributed by the Coronavirus Pandemic Fund[43], amounted to MAD 800 for a family consisting of two or fewer individuals, MAD 1000 for a family of three to four members and MAD 1,200 for a family of more than four persons. They were excluded from this support despite the request of the National Human Rights Council to expand the measures taken to support all vulnerable groups, including migrants and refugees. This would have cost about 96 million dirhams roughly by calculating the maximum number of immigrants estimated at 40,000. This amounts to three parts of the stipulated support, or less than 1 percent of the budget allocated for the operation, set at MAD 11 billion.

In addition, migrants have been directly affected by the lockdown in the country due to restrictions on movement and displacement campaigns from one region to another, which the authorities are pursuing.

The map of the distribution of sub-Saharan migrants above shows that they are in constant movement, but their movement varies following their plan to reach Europe. For those who choose to break into the two border fences, their movement is in one direction, reaching one of the two cities, Tetouan or Nador, while securing their daily sustenance without the need to collect money. Conversely, those who prefer the sea route, constituting the majority (18 out of 24 attempted to reach Europe by sea in 2017[44]), are required to pay smugglers sums of money ranging between $2000 and $5000 (between MAD 21,000 and MAD 53,000[45]) and this can rise in the summer when the sea is calm and the risks of the journey are less.

The money demanded by smuggling networks may help explain why a number of immigrants have settled in Morocco for years in search of work and why they have to move between a number of cities. These networks lead migrants through the maze of the sea and contribute to the emergence of a market for “lethal and lucrative”[46] migration, despite the efforts by security authorities to pursue them, resulting in the dismantling of 36 criminal migration networks between January and 15 September 2019, 301 smugglers were arrested, seizing 2026 false identity documents or travel documents, as well as arresting 22,747 irregular migrants, including 16,000 and 245 foreigners during the mentioned period[47]. Turnover of illegal emigration through death boats can be estimated based on the scenario of the success of the number of intercepted migrants in crossing into Europe with the help of smugglers, who were paid the minimum required sums of $2,000. Estimates show that the turnover may reach $45.5 million (MAD 428 million).

However, in light of the declared state of health emergency in Morocco, the most important of which was the suspension of inter-cities movement, the movement of sub-Saharan migrants was partially halted, with the exception of a few movements that were intercepted between Oujda and Nador, which are 160 kilometers[48] apart.

The same remark applies to the displacement of migrants from one region to another, as the associations defending migrants did not record any displacement during the sate of health emergency. However, the displacement of sub-Saharan migrants from northern cities to more distant cities remains one of the measures that the authorities have been pursuing in recent years. This is criticized by human rights organizations, including the National Human Rights Council, which qualifies these operations as illegal as the lack of residency papers cannot be a pretext for displacement from one region to another[49].

The authorities nonetheless insist that the displacement of migrants from one region to another on the national territory does not run counter to international laws as it does not concern deportation to their countries of origin. Rather, it is related to law enforcement allowing them to prevent people who do not have residence papers from entering certain places[50], the goal being to keep them away from human trafficking networks.


4- Summary

It seems that the dynamism of irregular migration in Morocco has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic at multiple levels. This was reflected in the reduced mobility of migrants and the halt of displacement operations from one region to another. However, two new challenges loom large on the horizon:


  • The first challenge relates to the fact that the movement of irregular migration in Morocco is shrinking, but it does not stall even in light of exceptional and unprecedented circumstances such as what the country has gone through as a result of the war against the Coronavirus pandemic, worse of which are hard to predict.
  • Sub-Saharan migrants are considered one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. This entails urgent action to reduce the suffering that has worsened of late in Morocco, which, by virtue of its geographical location, is a gateway to Europe. About 150 countries ratified the Global Compact for Migration two years ago. Morocco ratified the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration in Marrakech on December 10th and 11th, 2018. This charter is the first international document endorsed by the United Nations that regulates the issue of migration and deals with migrant flows around the world. Its 23 goals are based on human rights, non-discrimination and facilitating migrants’ access to basic services. It recognizes the need for a collaborative approach to improving the overall benefits of migration, while mitigating its risks and challenges to individuals and communities in countries of origin, transit and destination.


The key to achieving this could be by working to provide the minimum conditions for decent living and improving access to medical treatment to reduce suffering in the future.




[1] Royal Navy rescued 93 sub-Saharan African migrants in the Mediterranean. MAP, June 18, 2020, at the following link: https://www.mapnews.ma/ar/actualites/%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1-%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A9/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%82%D8%B0-%D8%A8%D8%B9%D8%B1%D8%B6-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B6-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%AA%D9%88%D8%B3%D8%B7-93-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%B4%D8%AD%D8%A7-%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B3%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%86

[2] The term used to describe the region of the African continent that is located in sub-Saharan Africa

[3] Corona crisis added to the troubles of Sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco. France 24 (from “AFP”), May 13, 2020, at the following link: https://www.france24.com/ar/20200513-%D8%A3%D8%B2%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7-%D8%AA%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D9%85%D8%AA%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A8-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D9%86%D9%88%D8%A8-%D8%B5%D8%AD%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%88%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%B1%D8%A8

[4] Notice regarding the suspension of flights and maritime transports for travelers from and to Spain, MAP, March 12, 2020, at the following link: http://www.mapexpress.ma/ar/actualite/%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d9%85%d9%84%d9%83%d8%a9-%d8%a7%d9%84%d9%85%d8%ba%d8%b1%d8%a8%d9%8a%d8%a9-%d8%aa%d9%82%d8%b1%d8%b1-%d8%aa%d8%b9%d9%84%d9%8a%d9%82-%d8%a7%d9%84%d8%b1%d8%ad%d9%84%d8%a7%d8%aa-%d8%a7/%d9%85%d8%ac%d8%aa%d9%85%d8%b9-%d9%88%d8%ac%d9%87%d8%a7%d8%aa/

[5] Royal Navy stop 157 illegal migration candidates in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, MAP, 6 May 2020, at the following link: http://www.mapexpress.ma/ar/actualite/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D9%83%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%82%D9%81-157-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%B4%D8%AD%D8%A7-%D9%84%D9%84%D9%87%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%BA%D9%8A/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B9-%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AA/

[6] King Mohammed VI sends a military division to Tarfaya, Assahafa, June 22, 2020, at the following link: https://www.assahafa.com/%D8%AA%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%8A%D9%84-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8%D8%A4%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%A6%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%84%D9%83/

[7] Previous source: the Corona crisis added to the troubles of Sub-Saharan African migrants in Morocco. France 24 (from “AFP”), May 13, 2020

[8] Decree N° 2.20.292 issued on Rajab 28, 1441 (March 23, 2020) regarding the enactment of the provisions related to the state of health emergency and the procedures required for announcing them, the Official Bulletin, N° 6867 bis, dated Rajab 29, 1441 (March 24, 2020), page 1782. Decree N° 2.20.371 issued on 25 of Ramadan 1441 (19 May 2020) related to extending the period of the state of health emergency in all parts of the national territory in face of the outbreak of the Coronavirus – Covid 19, the Official Bulletin, N° 6883 bis, on 25 Ramadan 1441 (19 May 2020) Page 2776. Decree N° 2.20.406 issued on 17 Shawwal 1441 (June 9, 2020) related to extending the period of the state of health emergency in all parts of the national territory in face of the outbreak of the Coronavirus – Covid 19 and enacting the provisions related to easing the restrictions related to it, the Official Bulletin 6889 bis, dated Shawwal 17, 1441 (June 9, 2020), page 3394.

[9] Decree N° 2.20.526 relating to the extension of the state of health emergency throughout the national territory, report on the work of the cabinet meeting dated 6 August 2020, the National Portal, at the following link: http://www.maroc.ma/ar/%D9%85%D8%AC%D9%84%D8%B3-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%83%D9%88%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%AF-19-%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A6-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A5%D9%84%D9%89-%D8%BA%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A9-10-%D8%B4%D8%AA%D9%86%D8%A8%D8%B1-2020/%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%B1

[10] Migration in North African Development Policies and Strategies: A Comparative Analysis – The United Nations – The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) North Africa Office, 2014, Page 36

[11] Morocco refuses to set up shelters to accommodate migrants on its territory:https://www.aljazeera.net/news/humanrights/2018/10/5/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%B1%D8%A8-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D8%A5%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%83%D8%B2-%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A1

[12] Bermuda Triangle of the status of African migrants in the North, Al-Ayyam, Issue 900, May 28, 2020

[13]  The number has reached 5,000 cases as of December 2019, according to daily “Libération” issued on March 20, 2019

[14] Report on the Situation of Rights and Freedoms in Morocco during the year 2019, Mediator for Democracy and Human Rights, June 2020, page 103

[15] The response of the Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani to a question on “Government policy in the field of immigration” at the monthly session on public policies, Parliament, October 29, 2018

[16] Presentation by Minister of Interior Abdelwafi Laftit at Committee for Interior, Territorial Commune, Housing, and City Policy at the House of Representatives, May 8, 2017, MAP, at the following link: http://www.mapexpress.ma/ar/actualite/%D9%88%D8%B2%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AE%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D8%B1%D9%8A%D8%B5%D8%A9-%D8%B9%D9%84%D9%89-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B5%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%AF%D8%B9%D9%85-%D8%A7%D9%84/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D9%8A%D8%A9/

[17] Morocco is the first country to address immigration with a human, social, and human rights approach, Moroccan newspaper Sahara al Maghrebia, November 13, 2013, at the following link: http://www.assahraa.ma/journal/2013/174643

[18]Muhammad Karim Boukhasas, The Road to Hell, Weekly Al-Ayyam, Page 16, Issue 830, November 29, 2018

[19] Statement by the Ministry of the Interior regarding the dismantling of Gourougou forest camp in the city of Nador, February 10, 2015.

[20] Report on the situation of migrants and refugees in Nador in 2018, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, Nador branch

[21] Statement by the Ministry of Interior about the eviction of 85 apartments occupied by sub-Saharan migrants and owned by people living abroad, 1 July 2015

[22] Statement by the Ministry of Interior about dismantling a migrant camp in Fez Station, July 8, 2018

[23]From weekly Al-Ayyam, page 16, issue 869, dated October 17, 2019

[24]Study: “Informal Economy… Its Impact on Businesses Competitiveness and Proposals Measures for its Itegration”, General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises (CGEM), 2014

[25] Aisha Belhadj, African immigrants: Steadfast on the Road to the European Dream, As-Safir Al-Arabi, 12 August 2018, at the following link: http://assafirarabi.com/ar/22240/2018/08/12/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A3%D9%81%D8%A7%D8%B1%D9%82%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%B1%D8%A8-%D8%B5%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%B9/

[26]  “Migrants’ health: An Important Lever for Multi-sectoral Integration in Morocco”, Ministry of Health, at the following link: https://www.sante.gov.ma/sites/Ar/Pages/communiqu%C3%A9s.aspx?communiqueID=216

[27]The four ministries are: the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Moroccans Residing Abroad and Immigration Affairs, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Economy and Finance

[28] Marceau: The Doctor Who Dedicated Her Life to Treating Immigrants, Al-Ayyam Weekly, page 19, Issue 869, October 17, 2019

[29] Ibid

[30] Morocco refuses to build shelter centers for migrants on its lands, Al-Jazeera, October 5, 2018, at the following link:https://www.aljazeera.net/news/humanrights/2018/10/5/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%B1%D8%A8-%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%81%D8%B6-%D8%A5%D9%82%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%83%D8%B2-%D9%84%D8%A5%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%A1

[31] Migration and Asylum in Nador Report, 2019, “Grave Violations in the Service of European Immigration Policies”, the Moroccan Association for Human Rights, Nador branch.

[32] Statement by the Ministry of Interior, Evacuation of 85 apartments illegally occupied by sub-Saharan immigrants in Hay Irfan in Tangier, MAP, at the following link: http://www.mapexpress.ma/ar/actualite/%d8%a5%d8%ae%d9%84%d8%a7%d8%a1-85-%d8%b4%d9%82%d8%a9-%d9%83%d8%a7%d9%86-%d9%8a%d8%ad%d8%aa%d9%84%d9%87%d8%a7-%d9%85%d9%87%d8%a7%d8%ac%d8%b1%d9%88%d9%86-%d9%85%d9%86%d8%ad%d8%af%d8%b1%d9%88%d9%86/%d9%85%d8%ac%d8%aa%d9%85%d8%b9-%d9%88%d8%ac%d9%87%d8%a7%d8%aa/

[33] Decree No. 2.20.293 issued on Rajab 29, 1441 (March 24, 2020) declaring a state of health emergency in all parts of the national territory to face the outbreak of Corona-Covid 19, the Official Bulletin, No. 6867 bis, dated Rajab 29 1441 (March 24, 2020), Page 1783

[34] Article 3 of the Decree declaring a state of health emergency throughout the national territory in the face of the outbreak of Corona-Covid 19

[35] Ibid.

[36] Statement by the Ministry of Interior regarding the movement permit to workplace, National Portal, 20 March 2020, at the following link :http://www.maroc.ma/ar/%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%88%D8%AB%D9%8A%D9%82%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D9%84%D9%85%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%86-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B3%D8%A4%D9%88%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%86-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B4%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B5-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%AE%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84-%D9%81%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A9-%D8%AD%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B7%D9%88%D8%A7%D8%B1%D8%A6-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%83%D8%A7%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%82%D9%84

[37] Benchaboun : Morocco loses MAD 1 billion each day during lockdown, Hespress, 19 May 2020, at the following link: https://www.hespress.com/economie/471906.html

[38] Joint statement by the ministries of Interior, Health, Industry, Trade, and Green Economy, 21 June 2020, Head of Government website, at the following link : https://www.cg.gov.ma/ar/%D8%A3%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%B1%D9%89/%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D9%88%D8%A5%D8%AC%D8%B1%D8%A7%D8%A1%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%AD%D9%84%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AB%D8%A7%D9%86%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D9%85%D9%86-%D9%85%D8%AE%D8%B7%D8%B7-%D8%AA%D8%AE%D9%81%D9%8A%D9%81-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AC%D8%B1-%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%B5%D8%AD%D9%8A

[39] Website to download the movement exceptional permit: http://covid19.interieur.gov.ma/assets/files/attestation_confinement_ar.pdf

[40] Bermuda Triangle of the status of African migrants in the North, Al-Ayyam, Issue 900, May 28, 2020

[41] Coronavirus restricts the work of the NGOs working on the protection of migrants in Morocco, website of the 2nd Channel, 18 March 2020, at the following link :https://www.2m.ma/ar/news/%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7-%D9%8A%D9%82%D9%84%D8%B5-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84-%D8%AC%D9%85%D8%B9%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%AD%D9%85%D8%A7%D9%8A%D8%A9-%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AC%D8%B1%D9%8A%D9%86-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D9%85%D8%BA%D8%B1%D8%A8-%D9%88%D9%85%D8%B7%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%A8-%D9%84%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%A8%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%AE%D9%84-20200318/

[42] Coronavirus : Providing assistance to hundreds of people and accommodation to 36 immigrants, al-Omk al-Maghribi, 10 April 2020, at the following link : https://al3omk.com/521400.html

[43] Statement regarding the set up of the fund, website of the Head of Government, 17 March 2020, at the following link:  https://www.cg.gov.ma/ar/%D8%A3%D9%86%D8%B4%D8%B7%D8%A9-%D8%A3%D8%AE%D8%B1%D9%89/%D8%A7%D9%84%D8%AD%D9%83%D9%88%D9%85%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B5%D8%AF%D8%B1-%D9%85%D8%B1%D8%B3%D9%88%D9%85-%D8%A5%D8%AD%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%AB-%D8%B5%D9%86%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%82-%D8%AE%D8%A7%D8%B5-%D8%A8%D8%AA%D8%AF%D8%A8%D9%8A%D8%B1-%D8%AC%D8%A7%D8%A6%D8%AD%D8%A9-%D9%81%D9%8A%D8%B1%D9%88%D8%B3-%D9%83%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%88%D9%86%D8%A7

[44]Bulletin of Immigration Dynamics for the month of February 2017, Observatory of the North for Human Rights, 4 March 2017

[45] Report of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights – Nador Branch 2019

[46] Ibid

[47]More than 420,000 people were arrested during security operations between  January 1st and September 15th this year, a press conference by the Director of the Judicial Police, MAP, September 19, 2019, at the following link: http://www.mapexpress.ma/ar/actualite/%D8%AA%D9%88%D9%82%D9%8A%D9%81-%D8%A3%D8%B2%D9%8A%D8%AF-%D9%85%D9%86-420-%D8%A3%D9%84%D9%81-%D8%B4%D8%AE%D8%B5-%D8%AE%D9%84%D8%A7%D9%84-%D8%B9%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D8%A7%D8%AA-%D8%A3%D9%85%D9%86%D9%8A/%D9%85%D8%AC%D8%AA%D9%85%D8%B9-%D9%88%D8%AC%D9%87%D8%A7%D8%AA/

[48] Mohamed Karim Boukhsasse, Diaries of African Migrants in Morocco in the face of Coronaviris, Page 12, Issue 900, 28 May 2020

[49] Interview with Amina Bouayach, Presdient of Human Rights National Council (CNDH), al-Ayam weekely, Page 22, Issue 896, 30 April 2020. 

[50] Law N° 02.03 regarding Foreigners entry and residence and illegal immigration.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Mohammed Karim Boukhssass

Mohammed Karim Boukhssass

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