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Morocco thwarts 55,000 illegal migration attempts in 2017

Migrants and refugees crossing into Europe.
Migrants and refugees crossing into Europe. [Wikipedia/ Gémes Sándor/SzomSzed]

The Moroccan government has thwarted at least 55,000 attempts to smuggle illegal migrants into Europe this year alone, the Interior Minister has revealed. Around 100 people-smuggling networks were uncovered and dismantled.

"The new national strategy for migration and asylum, which was approved by the government in 2015, focused on the human and rights dimensions in managing the migrant portfolio," Noureddine Boutayeb told parliament. "The country's strategy did not overlook the security dimension of the migration file, though, given the growing international and regional smuggling activities."

According to the minister, his ministry took security measures to combat human smuggling networks. They included securing the borders as well as the beaches to limit the possibilities of boats being used to smuggle migrants. "The security measures are also based on strengthening intelligence efforts to anticipate the activities of criminal networks and monitor forests and places where migrants hide," he added.

According to official data, Morocco has received nearly 26,000 requests this year made by migrants wishing to settle in the country.

In December last year, Morocco launched the second stage of a programme to settle the legal status of illegal migrants after Rabat dealt with 23,000 migrants in 2014, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and Syria during phase one. International observers say that the number of Moroccans trying to migrate to Spain has increased significantly this year.

Read: Migrants left stranded between Algeria-Morocco border

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