Spain experiences influx of Moroccan refugees

Disappointing throne speech of Morocco’s king will fuel exodus – Harassment of critics from impoverished regions continues (Press Release)

The number of refugees from Morocco to Spain will increase, because the Moroccan royal family won't stop stifling the Hirak protest movement in the Rif mountains. More than 400 people of the Rif mountains were being arrested due to their critics. Picture: Tinghir/Morocco via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) assumes that Spain will experience an increase in the number of refugees from Morocco, as the Moroccan royal family is apparently not prepared to stop stifling the Hirak protest movement in the Rif Mountains. “We hoped that the throne speech of King Mohammed VI. on Sunday might contain indications about an amnesty for the arbitrarily arrested protesters from the impoverished region,” criticized Ulrich Delius, the STP’s director, in Göttingen on Monday. “Although the king held his annual throne speech in the city of Al Hoceima, the stronghold of the protest movement, he did not mention the Hirak movement at all. He talked about new economic and social initiatives, but his critics are far from satisfied.”

More than 400 people from the Rif mountains, including many non-Arab Masirs (Berbers), have been arrested since October 2016 for criticizing the abuse of power, corruption, and neglect of their region – and 53 supporters of the Hirak movement were sentenced to some long prison terms at the end of June 2018.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Moroccan people were the third largest group (2,600 people) among the 18,000 refugees who arrived in Spain between January and June 2018. This did not change in the month of July 2018, as the UN Migration Organization (IOM) pointed out with reference to its latest figures. According to the IOM, more and more people are fleeing from Sub-Saharan Africa and Guinea, trying to reach Spain. Compared to the first half of 2016, the number of refugees arriving in Spain has quadrupled by 2018.

“Obviously, the Moroccan rulers aren’t really trying to find a political solution to the crisis in the Rif region. Instead, they are relying on arbitrariness and violence,” Delius stated. “If Europe’s governments were serious about their intentions to combat the causes of flight and migration in the countries of origin, they would not remain silent about the human rights crisis in Morocco.” The human rights organization warned that the exodus will probably increase with each month of political stalemate in the kingdom.

Headerpicture: Tinghir/Morocco via Flickr