The kingdom on a mission to recover its minors from Europe

Moroccan monarch King Mohammed VI is on a mission to recover the kingdom's minors living as undocumented migrants in Europe.By…

Moroccan monarch King Mohammed VI is on a mission to recover the kingdom’s minors living as undocumented migrants in Europe.By Hicham Alaoui

This is one of the most complex of the measures put forward by European countries to curb the flow of illegal immigrants from Africa. 

Despite their desire to help find a solution to the problem of their minors trapped in illegality across Europe, African countries have always found themselves faced with a real headache. 

Morocco, one such country most affected by the phenomenon, has decided to make it a priority. 

On Tuesday, June 1, King Mohamed VI gave instructions to the Interior and Foreign Affairs ministers to ensure that the issue of unaccompanied under-aged Moroccans, with irregular migrant status in European countries, is definitively sorted out.

According to a joint statement from the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, the monarch has, on several occasions, including to foreign heads of state, expressed the kingdom’s clear and firm commitment to accepting the return of unaccompanied and duly identified minors.

Cooperation mechanisms with some countries have been set up to this end particularly France and Spain, which have resulted in the return to Morocco of several dozen minors, the statement said.

The delays witnessed in the implementation of this cooperation agreement are mainly linked to complex administrative and judicial procedures in certain European countries, the statement added, specifying that Morocco is the first country concerned by certain circles of civil society, or even criminal networks, which use the supposedly precarious conditions of minors as a pretext to exploit them.

Morocco is willing to collaborate, as it always has done, with the European countries and the European Union (EU), for the settlement of this issue, the statement went on, noting that the kingdom hopes that the EU and the countries concerned will be able to get beyond the procedural constraints to facilitate this operation.

Morocco once again regrets that the migration issue, including the issue of unaccompanied minors, is used as an alibi in order to circumvent the real causes of the current political crisis with Spain, whose origins and foundations are well known.

Reacting to this royal initiative, the Moroccan scholar and political analyst, Mohamed Bouden notes that the monarch gives priority to the best interests of children and the instructions he gave to the ministries “have the character of an urgent intervention to reduce the worsening suffering of unaccompanied minors in the countries of destination and to eliminate their manifestations of abuse to which they are subject.”

“The royal initiative protects the most vulnerable of irregular migrants and confirms Morocco’s commitment to international law, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It is also an explicit response to certain voices, which present Morocco as a country using its children to blackmail Europeans, and distort the real debate”, he explains in a statement to APA.

“Today, the message conveyed to parts of the northern Mediterranean is that Morocco cares about its children, who are the wealth of the future, and cannot allow fear and anxiety to win. The younger generations are in a foreign society which could swallow them up, put them in administrative detention or make them suffer discriminatory treatment by considering them as immigrants and not as children,” Pr. Bouden says.

According to him, it is therefore a legal intervention to deal with the situation of a group that does not have official papers allowing it to travel within a legal framework and may therefore be exposed to unequal practices, which can threaten its rights and turn it into a commodity.

“The state has decided to assume the responsibility of caring for children who have been separated from their parents or relatives, as no one is in a position to take this responsibility under the law,” he indicates.

The Moroccan intervention, in collaboration with Spain and France, is part of the consular protection of migrant children unaccompanied by adults, or after they appear mistreated during their detention, or through negligence, the notification of their consular mission having not been made.

The researcher adds that Morocco is making more efforts to deal with the issue of migration, noting that the real Spanish-Moroccan crisis is mainly linked to the Spanish position on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara. 

“Spain must act in a reasonable way to benefit from cooperation with its southern neighbor, Morocco. The reception by Spain of the Polisario leader, Brahim Ghali, has affected relations between the two countries and cast doubt over the future, on the goodwill initiatives taken by Madrid,” the Moroccan analyst observes.

In the same vein, Political Science researcher at the Mohammed V University in Rabat, Driss Benyaacoub felt that the reception of unaccompanied Moroccan immigrant minors in European countries is “a question that has many layers to it, notably humanitarian, legal and social, as it imposes, by law and reality, several constraints, at the level of the host country or the country of origin, i.e. Morocco in this case.”

“We think it is safe to say that this type of migration can be likened to a type of exploration of a cultural and social space different from Morocco, not just because of poverty, but also because of the search for a space around which, aspects of freedom and social promotion have been imposed on the minds of young people, as well as on a certain number of families with limited education,” he notes.

Of course, there are legal, administrative and judicial constraints that compound the reintegration process for young immigrants.

Administrative systems, judicial procedures, national legal texts specific to each country, international or regional agreements, are all instruments that govern this complex relationship between the average minor migrant, his host country and his country of origin, Mr. Benyaacoub further observes.

According to him, Morocco is doing everything in its power to mobilize consular and diplomatic missions to deal with the case of these immigrants in order to send them back to to the kingdom in good conditions after having duly identified them. 

However, the complex and lengthy administrative procedures of some host countries do not allow the issue of the return to Morocco to be resolved within a reasonable time, in addition to sometimes accommodation problems that do not reach the adequate level of humane treatment, he observes.

However, the red tape in some foreign countries unreasonably confuses return processes.

This raises real political and cultural issues about the objectives behind the complexity of these procedures in host countries.


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