Morocco to provide resident permits to thousands of migrants

Morocco launches the second round of a campaign to regularise undocumented migrants, aiming to provide thousands of foreigners resident permits that will allow them to wok, enrol their children in school and have access to medical care.

RABAT, MOROCCO (DECEMBER 15, 2016) (REUTERS) – Dozens of migrants queued up outside the Rabat prefecture in the Moroccan capital recently, hoping to get resident permits.

The country on Thursday (December 15) launched the second phase of a campaign to ‘regularise’ the status of thousands of undocumented migrants.

The first phase was launched in 2014. More than 23,000 undocumented migrants have been given resident permits in the pat few years, authorities say. Of those, 23 percent were from Syria, 21 percent from Senegal and 19 percent from the Democratic Republic of Congo, the interior ministry said.

The permit allows people to work, enrol their children in school and have access to medical care.

Special offices have been opened in all Moroccan prefectures and provinces to receive the applications from foreigners.

Morocco has long been a transit to Europe, but as European countries have increased border security to check an unprecedented wave of migration, those who could not enter Europe, have put down roots in the country.

The applications for resident permits will be examined by prefectural and provincial committees who will decide which undocumented migrants are entitled to stay.

“All foreigners from every nationality who are staying illegally in Morocco and do not have resident permits have the opportunity now to submit their request in this office and also in all prefectures and provinces in Morocco. These requests will be examined and we will decide later on who are the people who fulfil the criteria and those who don’t,” said Khalil el Kay, the head of security at Rabat prefecture.

The scheme will cover foreigners married to Moroccan nationals, foreigners who are working or living in the country legally, those with five years of continuous residence in Morocco and those who have a chronic disease.

Kamara Gumbo Dimafa is hoping to be second time lucky.

“I did it the last time but I was refused a resident permit. I don’t know why I did not get it first time. I asked myself this question and it was probably because I did not have the document of the water board. Otherwise, I have all the proofs. I’ve been now in Morocco for nearly five years,” he said.

A majority of the migrants are from other African countries. But Morocco has also become home to thousands of Syrians who have fled the conflict in their country.

Walid al-Ahmad has been in Morocco only for a month. But he hopes to get the permit, as his mother is ill.

“They tell us that we should be living at least five years here to apply but we have been here only for a month. Yet, one of the criteria for applying is a chronic disease. My mother is chronically ill. She suffers from heart and blood vessels diseases.”

As well as migrants from Africa and Syria are migrants from the Philippines who are also expecting to get their papers, with some thanking the Moroccan King for giving them ‘amnesty’.