INTERVIEW: History of migration in Kingdom of Morocco by Naomi and President of ACCM

Migration is an important socio-economic process and has thus intrinsicallyinfluenced the country’s development and the livelihoods of the migrants and theirfamilies. Considering that international migration will continue to be prominent in Morocco.

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In the respective chapters,the Moroccan Diaspora, the effect of migration on development, and the migrationpolicies which influence Moroccan migration will be discussed. Moroccan migration inthe Netherlands will then be elaborated on, followed by a final section on the futureprospects of international migration in Morocco.

The Kingdom of Morocco (Al Mamlakah al Maghribiyah) has a long historydating back to the end of the 8th century, when North Africa was conquered by the Arabs. Since then successive Moorish dynasties ruled in the region,which subsequently characterized Morocco as an independent nation-state for manycenturies

The Moroccan migration boom, which lead to Moroccans being among the mostprominent Diaspora groups in Europe, started with the “guest worker” programs in the1960s. Migration has a long tradition in the North African country: seasonal and circularmigration patterns between some rural areas and towns in Western and NorthernMorocco, as well as trans-Saharan caravan trade, have existed for centuries.A first complement to the traditional migration patterns emerged after thecolonization of Algeria by the French in 1830, which was also the start of economic andpolitical restructuring of the area.

International migration from Morocco has been spatially selective and mostlyinvolved rural areas and regions at the periphery, where a big gap existed between naturalresources and population needs. Out-migration from these specific regions was notsimply an autonomous process, however, but was stimulated by the Moroccan state forpolitical and economic reasons (De Haas, 2007a). In encouraging migration fromparticular regions.

The first sending regions in Morocco were the Souss in the South West of thecountry and the Rif Oriental in the North East (Berriane and Aderghal, 2008). The oaseslocated in the south of the High Atlas soon became an area of international outmigrationas well. As a result those three regions (the Sous, Rif, and the oases near the High Atlas)can now be identified as the three principal migration belts in Morocco (de Haas, 2007b).They belong to those parts of Morocco where insurrection had taken place afterindependence as a result of economic crisis, political discontent, and perceived discrimination.

Giving young men the opportunity to work abroad and earn good moneywas seen as a means to reduce rebellious tendencies and contribute to prosperity (de Haas,2007a). Those early departure zones of international migration have also been the regionswith established traditions of seasonal and circular migration within Morocco andtowards Algeria.

Diversification of migration in response to restrictive policies.
The Moroccan state, European receiving countries as well as most migrants themselves expected that this migration would only be temporary. Standing in an ancient tradition of circular migration, most migrants themselves intended to return after a certain amount of money had been saved to buy some land, construct a house, or start their own enterprise. The 1973 Oil Crisis heralded a period of economic stagnation and restructuring, resulting in rising unemployment and lower demand for unskilled workers.
Consequently, northwest European countries closed their borders to new labor migrants. However, most migrants did not return, but ended up staying in Europe permanently. The Oil Crisis radically changed the political and economic context in which migration took place, both in Europe and in Morocco. Morocco suffered even more than the European countries from the high oil prices and the global economic downturn. In addition, following two failed against King Hassan II in 1971 and 1972, the country also entered into a period of increasing political instability and repression.

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