The last Syrian refugees stranded on the Algerian-Moroccan border since 17 April have finally been admitted into Morocco following orders given by King Mohamed VI earlier this week.
“As of last night, the people were taken care of” and “the first medical care was given.” They will be heading towards the city of Oujda “so that the legal process related to the status of refugees can be applied, Director of Amnesty International Algeria, Hassina Oussedik, explained at a press conference yesterday alongside the vice-president of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights (LADDH).
The 28 Syrian refugees entered Morocco after enduring harsh living conditions near the border town of Figuig.
All Syrian refugees must be granted refugee status either in Morocco or in a third country. The UNHCR must do its job to find a solution for each person
Yesterday, the refugee group met members of the Figuig and Bouarfa collective in support of the Syrian refugees who helped while they were stranded in the desert. They then travelled to Rabat where they were received at the headquarters of the National Council of Human Rights (CNDH).
Today, they will start registering with the Moroccan office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Rabat. “UNHCR has proposed to the Moroccan government to take part in the care of these refugees and to find durable solutions for them,” Jean-Paul Cavaliéri, the UNHCR representative in Morocco, told HuffPost Morocco.
Refugees who already have family in Morocco will be able to be reunited with them whilst others are likely to join family members based in Europe. “We will work with the countries in question on the basis of the principle of family reunification,” Cavaliéri explained.
The UNHCR will set up its refugee assistance programme to accommodate the families whilst they are in Rabat. “Since Morocco does not have a refugee camp, we have places for vulnerable people who need temporary accommodation,” the UN representative said.
The refugees have been stranded between Algeria and Morocco for the last couple of months after both countries refused to take them in following accusations the refugees were made to cross into each territory illegally.
The 28 Syrians were part of a group of 41 who arrived in mid-April in the buffer zone between Morocco and Algeria. Some of them have since been smuggled into Morocco to stay with relatives whilst others have crossed the border to join the Spanish enclave of Melilla.
Algeria announced it would accept the refugees earlier this month but was refused access to them by Morocco. No explanation was given for this.