Videos of Mass Irregular Migration in Morocco Spark Socio-Economic Concerns


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Rabat – Photos and videos of a mass irregular migration attempt in Fnideq, northern Morocco went viral on Sunday.

A group of young Moroccans lined up on the town’s beach in an attempt to swim from Fnideq to the Spanish enclave of Ceuta.

The attempt took place during bad weather, with grey clouds, strong winds, and choppy sea conditions.

The dangerous circumstances did not prevent the group from swimming toward Ceuta.

Spanish news outlets reported that over 50 of approximately 70 migrants reached Ceuta.

Photos show some of the migrants praying on the shore, expressing gratitude after reaching their destination safely.

Other Spanish sources reported that one of the migrants died during his attempt while others are nowhere to be found.

The pictures and photos have been widely shared among social media and networks making international headlines.

The situation also emphasized the frustration in the region regarding the socio-economic crisis, with some internet users attributing the incident to a lack of job opportunities and growing poverty.

The Research and Financial Forecasts Departement (DEPF) recently released a report, showing that the job market in Morocco recorded a net loss of 432,000 job positions by the end of 2020.

The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors suffered the majority of the job losses.

Job losses reached 37,000 in industrial activities, including crafts and construction.

The report shows that the overall unemployment rate increased by 2.7 points, between 2019 and 2020 to 11.9%. The number represents the highest unemployment level in the last 18 years.

In urban areas, the unemployment rate increased by 2.9 points to 15.8%, and 2.2 points to 5.9% in rural areas.

Ceuta and Melilla are not the end of the journey

The journey of the migrants who made it to Ceuta does not stop in the Spanish enclave.

Migrants cross the route from northern Morocco to one of the Spanish enclaves in order to find a way how to reach the Peninsula.

The dream to reach Spain from the Spanish enclaves failed for many, who are now either in detention centers or looking for a way to come back home.

Following COVID-19-induced lockdown, videos went viral of Moroccan citizens calling on King Mohammed VI to help them return to their families.

Some irregular migrants who failed to reach Europe also swam back to the country.

Others were not able to make it home and drowned attempting to cross the Spanish enclave of Ceuta by swimming to Morocco.

Ceuta and Melilla are both living in economic crises after Morocco closed borders against the smuggling of food and other products.

The country cited economic recession driven by the smuggling of goods from Spain, resulting in the stagnation of local activities and products. 

In the past few months, several protests occurred in Fnideq and the nearby town of M’diq with demonstrators asking the government to find alternative solutions following the border closure and suspension of smuggling activities.

Local administrations introduced solutions for women, who were traveling back and forth between Morocco and the Spanish enclaves.

The government’s aid included a budget that aimed to help women affected by the crisis by financing their own projects.