Morocco, a country of transit for thousands of migrant women and children
Published by Marion Darcissac on

Presentation : Audio- Tamkine project – Morocco – Feb 2012

Morocco is not only a country of emigration.

3560_titesBonnes_OdileMeylan_52_inlineEvery year, thousands of migrants from Sub-Saharan Africa take to the Moroccan roads to get to Europe. Originally places to pass through, the kingdom’s larger cities have gradually become places of residence for migrants from West Africa, who are sometimes stuck for years in front of the ever-higher barriers of the “European fortress”. Amongst them are single women, pregnant or with small children: the people most vulnerable to the inherent risks of illegal migration.

In recent years, the links between migration and human rights has been widely recognised at an international level. In 2008, the member states of the European Union adopted the European Pact on immigration and asylum, which makes provision for fundamental principles concerning migration, in the best interests of the countries of reception, origin and transit, and of the migrants themselves. The exterior dimension of the migration policy of the European Union aims at partnership with the other countries, including Morocco as a country of emigration as well as of transit.

With the support of the European Union, Terre des hommes and its Moroccan partners GADEM and Oum El Banine started up a new programme for the protection of migrant women and children and for the promotion of the rights of migrants in Morocco. This project follows on nearly three years of activity to help the most vulnerable migrants. The new phase now goes beyond the walls of the capital Rabat to replicate the work on the routes taken by the migrants towards Europe: Tangiers and Oujda City.

The goal is to reduce the vulnerability of the migrant women and children in Morocco, to improve their access to health, education and legal services. That is to say, to their inherent rights stated in various international agreements ratified by Morocco.

Terre des hommes has opened a health-care centre for expectant migrant women and those with babies, in a quarter of Rabat where a large proportion of the migrant population congregate. The medical staff of this centre gives information and advice to these women and young girls on healthy sex, family planning, child nutrition and hygiene. They also have a chance to talk, together or with a social worker, about the traumas they have experienced, whether in their country of origin or on the migration route itself. And if a health problem is detected in them or in their babies, they are sent to the various services offered by the Ministry of Health and medical-social institutions.

So that the children of migrants can have access to schooling, Terre des hommes and its partners now want to intervene as well with the families and the public schools. The fact is that the migrants hoping to reach Europe see no need for their children to learn a language they may not need. Unfortunately, more and more migrant families have now been settled in Rabat for many years, and today they really regret not having allowed their children to go to school and have a chance to become integrated. Equally, some schools still refuse to enrol the children they consider to be in an irregular situation, although the national law protects them. Tdh and its partners inform and attempt to convince the migrant families and the public school staff of the importance of formal education, intercultural exchanges and the right to schooling.

Today, despite the 2003 adoption of a law which protects migrant persons (Law 02-03 relating to the admission and stay of foreigners), migrants encounter problems even with the exercise of their rights. This law and the procedures to be followed are little known in institutions, in associations for aid and by the migrants themselves.

Tdh’s partners make governmental parties aware of the rights of foreigners, with the aim of getting the legal framework in agreement with national and international laws. The associations and institutions are given the relevant information to help migrants in the field, in conformity with their rights and national and international laws. At a judicial level, lawyers and magistrates are given training for the practical application of the rights of migrants.

Terre des hommes also continues to strengthen the “protection platform” it set up in 2009. This group unites the many associations specialising in the field of migration, women’s and child rights, all of which aim at bringing improved protection to migrant women and children who are the victims of abuse and violence. Members of this platform also give individual legal aid to migrants, and in particular ensure jurisprudence in the domain of the rights of foreigners.

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