Greetings Pitaconsumers! PITAPOLICY is pleased to share a guest post by Nabil Ouchagour, who collaborated with Mehrunisa Qayyum on a piece earlier this month on listening to the Arab and American streets. Ouchagour is a Public Relations specialist and is a former Moroccan journalist who blogs about civil society and public relations on Le Huffington & Al Huffington (the Magreb version).
Given that the United Nations has been meeting this week, Syria has already topped the agenda. However, migration policies remain a key challenge in many of the Mediterranean countries, extending from Morocco and Tunisia to Turkey. Hundreds of thousands of Moroccans have emigrated to Europe in waves for employment opportunities.
According to the International Organization for Migration, which tracks migration statistics around the world, over 3.3 million Moroccans emigrated from Morocco (a country of 32.6 million) and provide remittances back to families remaining there. In 2011, statistics by the Office des Changes du Moroc showed that remittances into Morocco amounted to over 7 billion U.S. dollars. In a nutshell, good migration policies account for remittances and tolerance–a theme that Ouchagour explores in Morocco.
Ouchagour gives his perspective on the current demographic makeup of Morocco. His article below was previously published in French for Le Huffington (@LeHuffPostBlog), which may be found here. Qayyum would like to thank Mr. Ouchagour for translating into English for the PITAPOLICY Blog. We invite you to follow Nabil Ouchagour on Twitter as @NabilOuchagour.
PRESS RELEASE BY MOROCCAN PRESS AGENCY: Ban Ki-moon Welcomes Royal Initiative
Ban Ki-moon welcomes royal initiative on migration, call of Sovereign for respect of ‘migrants’ rights’
New York (United Nations), Sep 12, 2013 (MAP) – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed, Thursday in New York, the guidelines of HM King Mohammed VI to the government to devise and implement a strategy and an action plan on migration.
“As one of the first member States to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (1993), the Secretary-General welcomes the announcement by His Majesty King Mohammed VI, who gave his instructions to the Moroccan government to design and implement an appropriate strategy and action plan with a view to formulating a comprehensive policy on migration”, and “its call for the rights of migrants,” the Office of the Spokesperson of the UN told MAP.
In this regard, “the Secretary-General urges the Moroccan government to implement the recommendations of the National Council for Human Rights (CNDH),” the same source said.
The Secretary-General “expressed hope that, once implemented, these measures will improve the situation of migrants regardless of their status in Morocco,” said the UN.
To this end, the Secretary-General “encourages the Moroccan government to work closely with the United Nations, in particular the High Commissioner for Human Rights, to ensure that all migrant access justice, protection against exploitation and violence, and their full human rights,” said the UN.
After being submitted the report on asylum and immigration, HM King Mohammed VI instructed the government to draft a strategy and a work plan, in coordination with the CNDH and other concerned institutions, to design a comprehensive immigration policy.
The Kingdom of Tolerance
“Morocco is an exceptional case in the region” is the phrase you hear most often from many Moroccans. Far from any chauvinism, this expression can be argued by historical and ethnographic explanations and also courageous political decisions.
The fact that Morocco wasn’t conquered by the Ottoman Empire is a major difference with its eastern neighbors. This powerful state founded by the Turkish conquered Anatolia, the Balkans, around the Black Sea, Syria, Palestine, Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa except Morocco. Since one can still observe the influence of this empire on different groups that compose other Arab societies.
Another factor is the migration of ethnic groups coming from different backgrounds throughout history. Thanks to its geographical position, this land has always been a crossroad of caravans from sub-Saharan Africa, Middle East and Europe. Morocco is not an exception to this new trend that started decades ago. Note how globalization trends have increased migration patterns in and around Morocco, which rose to 240 million in 2012. The historic trend of migration movements has intensified since the late 20th century, and thereby challenges countries that attract migration, including Morocco. The National Human Rights Council (CNDH) wrote that until now, “Moroccan public authorities have acted in an ad hoc manner, without a well-conceptualized and comprehensive initiative adapted to the new realities.”
The report published by CNDH highlights the new reality of this migration : “Morocco has become a land of asylum and long-term settlement for migrants. It welcomes regular immigrant workers, a relatively large number of foreign students, migrants with an irregular status, “in transit” often for years, and finally asylum seekers and refugees. To these migrations, we can add groups who have been settled in Morocco for generations (Algerians or Syrians for example, and various European nationalities) and an increase of migration as illustrated, for example, by the circular migration of an elite of highly qualified professional workers between Europe and Morocco, or by the extended stays of European pensioners, particularly French retirees.” Following the presentation of the report to King Mohammed VI, he asked the government to coordinate with CNDH and various stakeholders in order to establish a comprehensive migration policy.
I interpret this gesture as a welcome message for all migrants wishing to live in the Kingdom, and also a guarantee for the long-term stability of the country.
While other Arab countries live tensions because of struggles between different ideologies, the Moroccan monarchy plays its traditional role of unifying all the components of the Moroccan society.
This message is as strong as the reaction of the late King Mohammed V in 1940 when he responded to the Vichy regime “There are no Jews in Morocco. There are only Moroccan subjects.” This statement has become a synonym for tolerance and the peaceful coexistence of Jews and Muslims in Morocco. This is also the Moroccan exception!