Morocco Thwarts 40,300 Irregular Migration in First Half of 2019

Syrian refugees at the Algerian and Moroccan border

Morocco’s security services have foiled more than 40,300 irregular migration attempts since January 2019.

The Moroccan director of migration at the Ministry of Interior, Khalid Zerouali, said that the flow of irregular migrants persists despite concerted, ongoing efforts from both Morocco and Spain.

Zerouali said that the number of the foiled irregular migration attempts represent a 25% increase from the same period of 2018.

In an interview with Spanish news outlet El Pais, Zerouali explained that border control “has helped to ease the migratory pressure, but we must continue to work to strengthen this.”

The official acknowledged that Spanish-Moroccan cooperation to curb the flow of migrants has been fruitful.

“It is true that on the Spanish side, we feel that the migrator pressure has decreased, but on our side, it continues to increase,” he said, commenting on Morocco’s successful operations to decrease the flow of migrants entering Spain.

Zerouali said that Morocco is “fully assuming its responsibilities” in its territorial waters.

He said that the debate “should focus on the fight against [human] traffickers, because they are the ones who put the lives of migrants in danger.”

Zerouali acknowledged that Morocco is “under pressure,” explaining that as, Morocco increases pressure on the human traffickers, they continue to find new routes.

The networks “have become sophisticated. now candidates for illegal immigration are trying to leave from south Casablanca. There are also attempts to reach the Canary Islands” from the coast between Agadir and Dakhla, added the minister.

Spanish Ministry of Interior reported that more than 10,475 migrants reached the Spanish coast at the end of June, representing a decrease of 27.4 % from the same period of 2018.

The Moroccan government said that the Moroccan security services thwarted more than 30,000 irregular migration attempts in 2019, compared to 88,761 of foiled attempts in 2018.

Despite the pressure, both governments expressed satisfaction with the decrease of irregular migration attempts.

Spokesperson of the government Mustapha El Khalfi said in May that the decrease reflects the “great” effort of Morocco’s law enforcement forces against the issue of undocumented migration and the trafficking networks active in this area.

The Minister added that the statistics “testify to the considerable efforts” made by Morocco to combat irregular migration networks, especially those active on the Morocco-Spain axis.

In July, Spanish Ministry of Interior promised Morocco €26 million grant to support the country’s ongoing efforts to manage the flow of undocumented migrants into Europe.

Spain has been vocal in its support for Morocco within the European Union, emphasizing that the EU financial contribution to Morocco is not sufficient as the fight against irregular migration require more financial mobilization.

The statistics on undocumented migration began to fall in February 2019.