Morocco, originally a country of transit for people south of the Sahara heading for Europe has in recent years become an immigration country. Due to the strict controls at Europe’s
borders Morocco is now the end of the road for many migrants. In the course of their long journey many of these migrants have at one stage or another become victims of human trafficking and violence.
Remaining in Morocco illegally and in precarious conditions, they depend on humanitarian aid. The centre run by Caritas offers psychological support, decent basic care and lobbies for the social and
institutional integration of the migrants.
Morocco has for many years been a transit land for people from sub-Saharan Africa making their way to Europe. Due to the strict controls at Europe’s borders many are stranded in Morocco where they
settle for a period of years, in most cases illegally. It is estimated that there are at present between 10'000 and 15'000 migrants from Africa’s poorest countries in Morocco. They include refugees
who are entitled to protection under the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. In the absence of local state asylum procedures this task is taken on by the Office of the United
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Lack of access to basic care
Migrants and refugees who are in Morocco without authorisation are accorded very few rights by the state. Due to their illegal status, as well as to the
lack of protection, they do not have sufficient access to such basic services as hospitals, schools and accommodation. Nor are they eligible to seek legal, regular employment, making it difficult to
obtain a means of subsistence. They often have little or no protection against arbitrary and violent treatment. Women and children in particular are at risk from sexual and other forms of
Promoting independence and integration
The aim of the project is to help migrants achieve greater independence and to integrate. The centre is a point of contact for migrants where
they have access to psychological support and information on their rights and about the existing social institutions. As well as ensuring that migrants have accommodation, the centre staff
accompanies them to hospitals and health centres so that they may benefit from suitable medical care. Children and adolescents are provided with schooling so that eventually they can enter the public
school system and be integrated.
School and health service
About 120 new people arrive at the care centre each month on average. Many stay in Morocco for long periods and depend on the centre for services. Others move
on trying all possible avenues to reach the Europe for which they long, and many disappear without trace. At the beginning of the 2011 school year there were 142 children attending the centre’s
informal school, and 14 of these were able to transfer to the public school system. In the last quarter of the year 937 individuals were advised by the Caritas health service about medicines and
related matters, 253 received psychological support and 199 were given financial assistance for accommodation and in some cases for food.
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been involved in the protection of migrants stranded in Morocco since 2008, and since then has made regular contributions to the Caritas
care centre. The project is well advanced and has already had a number of successes. Thanks to years of lobbying and coordination with public institutions it has been possible to a great extent to
ensure that migrants have access to basic services, notably to public hospitals and schools. The objective is for the Moroccan state eventually to take on the duty of integrating migrants.
Strategic importance of the Swiss commitment
In the framework of its North Africa programme for 2011–2016, Switzerland is committed to the protection of the most vulnerable
migrants, in particular those from the sub-Saharan region, encouraging the development of national migration strategies and the relevant legislation. This in full awareness – bearing in mind their
original intention of travelling to Europe – that it is in Switzerland’s interest to ensure that stranded migrants can be accepted and cared for in orderly fashion, with Switzerland taking a share of
The project in brief
Federal institutions involved
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
Ensuring decent basic care for stranded migrants
Between 10'000 and 15'000 migrants from sub-Saharan Africa are living illegally in Morocco, where they have
very few rights. Often they have no access to basic services
Promoting greater independence for migrants and their integration
Psychological support and access to basic services
Promoting the integration of migrants in Morocco and the relevant legislation
Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa in the region of Rabat-Salé
January 2011–June 2012