JRS: EU-North Africa relationship puts migrants’ rights at risk

by zoejardiniere

07.12.2012 “For years the EU has relied on Morocco to hold migrants back without ensuring any kind of procedure to identify persons in need of refugee protection. In Algeria, where many migrants also get trapped without protection, they are often forced to beg on the street and live in abandoned buildings”, said Andrew Galea Debono, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Europe researcher, during the presentation this week of the report Lives in Transit.

The JRS study shows that forced deportations and human rights abuses of migrants and refugees are common practice in Morocco and Algeria. Most sub-Saharan migrants reaching Maghreb are left in limbo, stuck between unreachable Europe and impossible return. Algeria and Morocco both lack legislation on asylum thus leaving forced migrants without protection, even though many have fled persecution or war. Migrants are not allowed to work and they often suffer from racial discrimination.

Having survived traumatic journeys, migrants and refugees, who have been recognised by UNHCR in sub-Saharan countries, are likely to be forcibly expelled to the desert by the Moroccan or Algerian authorities. These expulsions are normally carried out following police raids, during which individual cases have no chance to be reviewed.

According to JRS, the abuse of migrants’ rights persists largely because the European Union turns a blind eye to the issue and focuses instead on regulating immigration flows. In addition to the current readmission agreement between Spain and Morocco, the European Commission is currently negotiating a European readmission agreement with Morocco.