Morocco admits stranded Syrian refugees, UNHCR welcomes move

Morocco decided on Tuesday to open its doors to thirteen Syrian families that have been stranded at the borders with neighboring Algeria since April 17 and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has welcomed the humanitarian move.

The decision to admit the refugees was announced by the Royal cabinet on Tuesday in a press release, which said that, on the basis of humanitarian considerations, King Mohammed VI had instructed authorities to allow the refugees entry into Morocco.

This decision, made as the international community was celebrating the World Refugee Day, reflects the “humane commitment of the Kingdom in the treatment of migratory issues and comes during these blessed days of the holy month of Ramadan, the month of piety and solidarity”, said the Royal Office. “It is an exceptional measure dictated by humanist values,” the press release said.

The UN Refugee Agency, which welcomed the decision as a “humanitarian gesture”, said “the remaining 28 refugees from an original group of 41, including women and children, were collected on June 20 by the Moroccan police from the border and transported by bus to Bouarfa, from where they were transferred to the capital Rabat.”

UNHCR is working with the authorities of Morocco and other countries to find a durable solution to the plight of these vulnerable refugees, it said.
On the occasion of the World Refugee Day, celebrated on June 20, the Representative of the UNHCR in Morocco, Jean Paul Cavaliéri commended Morocco for the humanism underlying its immigration and asylum policy, saying that the North African country has succeeded in developing an adequate legal framework guaranteeing the right to asylum.

Morocco updated legal texts to enable refugees to enjoy their rights to international protection, he said, adding that the UNHCR works closely with the Moroccan government and the civil society to bring help to asylum seekers in terms of registration for obtaining refugee status in addition to offering them medical and legal aid, and providing education to their children.

Morocco was one of the first countries of the South to adopt a genuine solidarity-based policy regarding sub-Saharan migrants. This integrated policy, which is rooted in humanitarian values, is designed to make sure migrants’ rights and dignity are safeguarded.

In this vein, Morocco has launched two regularization campaigns of undocumented migrants. Under the first phase that took place in 2014, some 25,000 migrants gain residency status. The second phase was launched in December 2016 and by last March, 18,228 migrants submitted to Moroccan authorities their requests to gain residency permits.

Morocco’s integration policy of migrants, spearheaded by King Mohammed VI, is described by analysts as exemplary.

About Geraldine Boechat 2636 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia