USA Commends Morocco for Migrants’ Protection

The US welcomed Morocco’s achievements in the field of human rights and democratic consolidation, underscoring in particular the protection of migrants’ rights and the policy of regularization and integration adopted by the Kingdom.

The Moroccan government “cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in providing protection and assistance to refugees, returning refugees, asylum seekers, and other persons of concern,” said the US State Department in its annual human rights report, adding that the government also provided funding to humanitarian organizations to provide social services to migrants, including refugees.

The Department of State highlighted that the government has historically deferred to UNHCR as the sole agency in the country entitled to perform refugee status determinations and verify asylum cases.

“UNHCR referred cases that meet the criteria for refugee recognition to the government’s interministerial Commission in Charge of Hearings for Asylum Seekers within the Bureau of Refugees and Stateless Persons,” the report stated.

The State Department underscored the “exceptional regularization of persons in irregular situation” under the 2016 migrant regularization program, recalling that “the government continued to grant status to UNHCR-recognized refugees, temporary status to registered Syrians, and regularized migrant status to qualifying applicants under the migrant regularization program’.

The report hailed Morocco’s efforts to give migrants access to basic services, saying that recognized refugees and migrants were able to work and access health care and education services, including publicly funded professional and vocational training.

Besides, requests on behalf of women and children receive automatic approval, with immediate access to education and healthcare, the document stated.

The State Department recalled that in December 2016, Morocco launched the second phase of its migrant regularization program to provide legal status to migrants in exceptional circumstances.

The program, similar to the 2014 campaign, grants legal status to foreign spouses and children of citizens and other legal residents of the country, as well as individuals with at least five years of residence in the country, a valid work contract, or chronic illness.

As of October, 22,986 individuals had received status under the program, of the more than 25,000 requests submitted, the report recalled.

Regarding the obtaining of Moroccan nationality, the document noted that migrants and refugees may obtain Moroccan nationality if they meet the legal requirements of the Nationality Law and submit a request to the Ministry of Justice.

Morocco facilitated the resettlement of recognized refugees to third countries when necessary, or voluntary returns, in cooperation with UNHCR, the report added.

The government also provided temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees. In this connection, the report recalled that on June 20, World Refugee Day, king Mohammed VI instructed the government to admit 28 Syrians who had been stranded between the borders of Morocco and Algeria for two months.

Syrians and Yemenis benefit from “exceptional regularization” outside of the more permanent migrant regularization program, the report noted.

The report also shed light on Moroccan authorities’ efforts, in collaboration with their Spanish counterparts “to break up trafficking networks and arrest human traffickers.”A

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