Migrants in Morocco ‘need help to survive lockdown’

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Migrants in Morocco could run out of money for food if the country’s coronavirus lockdown continues, with human rights groups urging the government to give migrants the same cash help that it has promised citizens.

Morocco has imposed a month-long lockdown restricting movements except for essential trips such as buying food and medicine and to staffing some key jobs.

It has promised some help to citizens but non-citizens – some in the country legally and some passing through trying to get to Europe – appear unlikely to receive any help.

Morocco says it will pay citizens about $120 (Dh440) a month to workers in private companies who are registered with the state social insurance scheme.

But so far, there is no help for 50,000 migrants who have obtained official residency permits or the far larger number of undocumented migrants, many of them homeless or passing through Morocco.

The National Human Rights Council and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights have urged the government to help.

Morocco has 761 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, and has reported 47 deaths.

'We need urgent help'

African migrants stand at Hay el Farah area, during a lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease, on the outskirts of Rabat, Morocco. Reuters

Saddou Habi, 30, who arrived in Morocco two years ago from Guinea, and decided to stay, rather than trying to reach Europe, after getting a job in a restaurant, said his money will run out in 10 days.

“I have been helping my four other flatmates whose financial situation is worse than mine,” he said.

“We are respecting all measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus but we need urgent help to go through these difficult times.”

Habi has applied for a residency permit, but is still waiting for it to be issued. He lives in the poor Hay Nahda district of Rabat, where houses made of bare concrete blocks press up against each other.

The majority of migrants work in the informal sector earning barely enough money to meet their basic needs for a day, said Ousmane Ba, a Senegalese migrant who runs a community group.

“We are all in the same boat in the face of the coronavirus storm. We have to show solidarity with one another for all to be rescued,” Mr Ba said

So far, the government has put more than 3,000 homeless people, including migrants, into shelters located in schools, stadiums and other buildings for the duration of the lockdown.

Updated: April 4, 2020 03:50 PM

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