Spanish Red Cross members in Melilla on January 3 assisting some migrants upon their arrival, after they were rescued from a small boat. (Photo: EPA/F.G. Guerrero)
Spanish Red Cross members in Melilla on January 3 assisting some migrants upon their arrival, after they were rescued from a small boat. (Photo: EPA/F.G. Guerrero)

Morocco has called on Spanish authorities to help it slow migrant flows and increase checks at the southern European border, in part by offering training programs and post-graduate courses in Spain.

Morocco has asked Spanish authorities for assistance in intensifying checks at Europe's southern border with requests for specific aid, such as training programs and post-graduate courses in Spain. In addition, it has requested a campaign to countervail online videos and messages that encourage migrants to take the perilous journey across the Strait of Gibraltar. According to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, cited by the Spanish daily El Pais, Morocco is asking for aid in addition to the 140 million euros that the European Union has already allocated to the country.

The funding will be allocated to train workers in the tourism and healthcare sectors, as well as for a university student exchange program and a campaign to fight messages spread on social media by human traffickers, who announce free journeys to the Spanish coasts.

'Need to invest in these types of initiatives'

In order to deal with these requests, Spanish Secretary of State for Labor, Migration and Social Welfare, Consuelo Rumi, will travel to Brussels at the end of the month to ask for additional EU funding. "We need to invest in these types of initiatives; the EU must be involved," Rumi said, indicating the EU’s prior funding.

This includes not only releasing the 140 million euros allocated months ago by Brussels to support Morocco to manage migrant flows, but also a series of programs which contribute to the country’s economic and social development. One such project is a training initiative by Spanish personnel for Moroccan professionals in the hotel and healthcare sectors, particularly in nursing.

In addition, Morocco wishes to offer a type of Erasmus exchange program so that its university graduates can attend post-graduate courses in Spain and return to Morocco with academic experience acquired abroad.

21% of migrants to Spain in 2018 from Morocco

According to sources, Spain is making efforts to support the requests from Rabat, which is its main partner in fighting illegal migration. Morocco is also the main departure area for the more than 62,000 migrants who arrived in Spanish territory in 2018, according to data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). A total of 21% of the migrants who arrived last year in Spain were of Moroccan origin. There is an exodus of young people from Morocco due to the lack of work opportunities in Morocco, as well as repression of social movements and the country's reinstatement of compulsory military service.

Moroccan authorities have strengthened checks at the borders, preventing 13,721 migrants from entering Spain in 2018, according to the most recent weekly report on migrant flows from the European Commission. The country has also intensified checks at strategic points on the borders of Ceuta and Melilla, and has deployed soldiers from the armed forces to alleviate migratory pressure.


 

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