Morocco has taken firm action against human traffickers thanks to a pro-active security strategy that helped dismantle 80 criminal networks and preventing 50,000 illegal immigration attempts so far this year. Director of immigration at Morocco’s interior ministry, Khaled Zerouali, commented that this brought the number of busted cells to 3,000 since 2004. He also added that the security measures taken by Morocco to crack down on the criminal networks is part of an all-encompassing immigration strategy that is underpinned by a humanitarian approach with an emphasis put on the immigrant rights.
Mr. Zerouali also warned of the convergence of human trafficking organizations and terrorist groups across the Sahel, saying that a few terrorist groups such as Al Qaida use human trafficking as a profitable activity to finance their operations. He further added that extremist organizations earn as much as $175 million from human trafficking activities each year, emphasizing that the threats posed by the trafficking networks necessitate transnational cooperation. While reminding that Morocco’s southern border remains insulated from any incursion and that the Sahara is the only region in the Sahel that remains almost free from terrorism, he admitted that the border with Algeria is a concern.
The Moroccan official further emphasized the leading experience undertaken by his country to legalize the stay of illegal migrants in its territory. The legalization campaign has so far given legal stay rights to more than 23,000 people, he said. Morocco also encourages the voluntary return of migrants to their home countries under the condition that their rights are protected and their integration prospects are kept as well. Mr. Zerouali said that 22,000 people have so far returned from Morocco voluntarily, mostly back to sub-Saharan Africa.