Morocco at the Crossroads the Intersection of Race, Gender, and Refugee Status
McKanders, K. (2018). Morocco at the Crossroads. In D. Gray & N. Sonneveld (Eds.), Women and Social Change in North Africa: What Counts as Revolutionary? (pp. 189-214). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781108303415.010.
Posted: 8 Mar 2018 Last revised: 19 Apr 2021
Date Written: December 1, 2017
For centuries, Morocco has been a country of emigration and transit. Its proximity to the European Union and to the Spanish territories of Ceuta and Melilla on the northern border of Morocco has led migrants to attempt transit through Morocco to gain access to the European Union. Despite its history as a country of transit, Morocco now faces unprecedented challenges regarding increased immigration and its corresponding international obligations to protect the human rights of migrants within its borders. The issues Morocco faces as a new destination country, attempting to apply the Convention in a non-discriminatory manner, evinces the contemporary reality that countries in the Global South have become destinations for greater numbers of forced migrants than ever seen in recorded history.
The goal of this chapter is to critically analyze the vulnerable situation of refugees and asylum seekers at the intersection of race and gender in Morocco. The chapter contains four major parts. In the first part, I give background information on the 1951 Refugee Convention, the obligations of nation-states that are signatories to the Convention, and how nation-states make legal determinations to distinguish between migrants, asylum seekers and refugees. In the second part, I review the historical and legal context behind Moroccan migration and refugee laws. In the third part, I highlight the historical and legal context in which the Convention is being applied in Morocco. Finally, I analyze the contemporary problematic of the application of the Convention in Morocco focusing on how individuals with gender based reasons for fleeing persecution and asylum seekers of African descent may be precluded from presenting their cases to obtain refugee status under existing legal frameworks. Sources of data for this inquiry included: UNHCR statistics, existing immigration laws related to refugees and migrants in Morocco, social science research on mixed migration in Morocco, policy briefs, and data on global migration flows as well as current trends in litigating and processing refugees across the globe. After using these data to approach Morocco as a legal case study, I found support for the conclusion that international actors must rethink collaboration to ensure refugees protections under the Refugee Convention - especially given that countries of the Global South are becoming new destinations for migrants.
Keywords: refugee, immigration, Morocco, gender, race
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