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Key findings
  • About one-third (36%) of Moroccans say “some” or “many” refugees, migrants, and other displaced persons should be allowed to live in Morocco. But a majority want only “a few” (30%) or “none” at all (26%).
  • Two-thirds (64%) see it as a good thing for an immigrant to start a business that employs nationals. About four in 10 would welcome an immigrant marrying one of their close relatives (39%) or becoming their neighbour (38%).
  • But almost half (47%) of Moroccans “agree” or “strongly agree” that migrants take away jobs from locals, and thus the country should not accept any more migrants. Similarly, four in 10 (43%) think Morocco has enough migrants and should not allow more to enter the country. Three in 10 (31%), on the other hand, say migrants are an economic asset and the country should therefore be more welcoming.
  • The most popular destination for potential emigrants is Europe (68%). Only 1% would choose to move to another country in Africa
  • More than half (53%) of potential emigrants say the most important reason for considering emigration is to find work.

In the complex web of international migration, Morocco has the unusual distinction of being an origin and transit and receiving country. Morocco’s own diaspora is the 10th-largest in the world, making up about 10% of its population (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2018). For decades, Morocco has also been a popular transit country for migrants seeking to cross to Europe; in 2018, the European External Action Service (2018) recorded more than 57,000 sub-Saharan and North Africans who arrived in Spain through Morocco. And in recent years, the country has become a destination for migrants who, unable or unwilling to cross to Europe, seek a new life in Morocco (International Migration Institute Network, 2019).

Under the guidance of King Mohammed VI, a continental leader on migration issues, the country adopted a human-rights-based National Immigration and Asylum Strategy in 2014 that calls for regularizing and integrating immigrants into society through access to education, health care, and work (North Africa Post, 2017; Gattioui, 2016; ReliefWeb, 2018). In fact, the country’s Constitution grants immigrants the same rights as Moroccans, including the right to vote in local elections. There have, however, been reports of arrests and banishment of irregular immigrants in a bid to reduce their transit to Europe (Alimi, 2018).

Reflecting their country’s complex engagement with migration issues, Afrobarometer’s recent national survey reveals that Moroccan citizens’ attitudes toward immigrants are a mix of welcome and caution. While a majority of Moroccans would welcome foreigners who start businesses, only minorities are in favour of allowing more refugees, migrants, and other displaced persons into the country, and half say migrants take jobs away from locals. The study also shows that more than one-third of Moroccans have considered emigrating, mostly to Europe and in search of jobs.

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Josephine Appiah-Nyamekye Sanny

Josephine is the knowledge transfer manager for Afrobarometer.

Mhammed Abderebbi

Mhammed is the national investigator for Morocco