International migration is one of the main political, economic, demographic, environmental, and cultural issues and challenges that testifies the inequalities of a world that is increasingly interdependent (Wihtol de Wenden, 2014). Even though migration movements affect only 3.5% of the world’s population, it is a global phenomenon. Overall, the number of international migrants is estimated to have increased over the past fifty years. According to UN estimates, 281 million people lived in a country other than their country of birth in 2020, which is 119 million more than in 1990 (153 million) and more than three times the number reached in 1970. Migration movements are characterized by new dynamics: South-South, North-North, North-South, and no longer only South-North.
Thus, the UN estimates that while “South-North” migration still accounts for 40% of the migration flows, “South-South” migration alone accounts for 33% of the total migration flows in the world. Globalization and the regionalization of migration flows have made “the South” not only a region of migration but also of immigration and transit. The regionalization of migration flows in a context of globalization follows not only the emersion of the South as a pole of attraction for new forms of mobility but also the diversification of categories of migrants. Women, minors, experts, tourists, environmental displaced people, members of the Family Class, add up to the old figure of the chain worker or the immigrant farmworker.
According to the United Nations, we can observe that despite an increase in absolute numbers, the ratio between international migrants and the world population remained relatively stable between 1990 and 2020, from 2.8 to 3.6%. However, due to COVID-19, the early estimates with an assumption of zero growth between March 1 and July 1, 2020, suggest a decrease of nearly 2 million international migrants in the world, in comparison with the initial forecast between mid- 2019 and mid-2020 (ONU).
The changes are taking place also in qualitative terms. While South-South migrations become considerable in numbers, we are also facing new changes in the geography of flows (countries of emigration become countries of immigration and vice versa, new migratory routes that are being set up) other than a feminization of these migratory movements. All these developments are also the consequences of the migration policies of concerned countries: Europe, Morocco, African countries in general.
Emigration from Morocco is undoubtedly a major phenomenon. According to the World Bank, in 2010 more than 3 million people born in Morocco live abroad. In 2013, emigrants represented 9.1% of the total population of Morocco. According to the same statistics, in 2013, 70% of people who had emigrated from Morocco lived in three countries: France (34%), Spain (28%), and Italy (15%) (OECD, 2017).
Morocco has evolved from a status of “transit country” to a status of “stopover and host country” (Alioua, 2013). This development requires Morocco to consider migration no longer as a question relating only to external relations, but also as a question of internal policy. The data currently available show that Morocco is mainly a country of emigration. More than five million Moroccans live abroad, the overwhelming majority of whom are in Europe. Morocco seems to have recently become a country of immigration, as increasingly important flows of migrants from sub-Saharan Africa pass through Morocco, hoping to reach Europe. Many of these migrants, faced with restrictive European policy measures, are forced to stay in Morocco for a relatively long period. The 2014 general population and housing census counted 86,000 immigrants.
Sociologist Mehdi Alioua confirms that Morocco is a “stopover” country and no longer a “transit” country. The idea of ”transit” is extremely restrictive from a space-time point of view, evoking the privileged time of strolling in the hub of an international airport where, while waiting for your next flight, one wanders, watching the showcases of duty-free stores. We are far, very far from the experience of these migrants who cross Africa, most often without administrative authorization, seeking a place that can allow them to carry out their project or just to find refuge. This is partly why the notion of stopover better accounts for the complexity of these migratory journeys by replacing the space-time dimension, which is not reduced to waiting in a non-place with a minimum of interactions before moving on to another ”. On the other hand, the stopover, according to Alioua “is a much longer time, much more complex, during which the impregnations, the social interactions, the relations of domination as well as the conflicts resulting from it are sufficiently important to transform the actors of migration, as much as those who see them pass and settle. The migrants we are talking about, almost nomads, always foreigners in the societies they pass through, have had to collectively reorganize their wandering “(2013, Alioua).
Report on irregular migration flows from Morocco to Europe
Carried out by the researchers, Ms. Chadia Arab, and Mr. Mustapha Azaitraoui, as part of the Safe Journey project, the year 2021