Morocco has launched the second phase of a campaign that will “regularise” the status of thousands of undocumented migrants living in the North African country.
The drive, launched in 2014, will see permits being issued to allow migrants to work, enrol their children in schools and access medical care.
More than 23,000 undocumented migrants have been given resident permits in the last few years, according to authorities. Some 23 per cent of them from Syria, 21 per cent from Senegal and 19 per cent from the Democratic Republic of Congo, according to the Moroccan Ministry of the Interior.
Morocco, like nearby Libya, is a popular transit route to Europe for migrants, but due to Europe increasing its border security checks, migrants end up remaining in the country.
Special offices will be opened around all provinces with applications being examined by prefectural and provincial committees who will then decide which undocumented migrants are entitled to stay in the country.
“There is no time limit for this operation that is open to everyone. All foreigners from every nationality who are staying illegally in Morocco and do not have residence permits have the opportunity now to submit their request in this office and also in all prefectures and provinces in Morocco. These requests will be examined and we will decide later on who are the people who fulfil the criteria and those who don’t,” Khalil El Kay, the head of security at Rabat’s prefecture, explained.
The campaign will also cover foreigners married to Moroccan nationals, foreigners who are working or living in the country legally.
“Today, I came here to apply for a permit. I did it the last time but I was refused a resident permit. I don’t know why I did not get it first time. I’ve been now in Morocco for nearly five years. I came to Morocco in 2011,” one migrant, Kamara Gumbo Dimafa, said.
Other migrants from Africa, Syria and the Philippines all hope they will be able to get their papers, with some thanking the Moroccan King for offering an “amnesty” to start a new life in North Africa.