The UN refugee agency says it’s been waiting for more than a week in Morocco for government permission to meet possible asylum seekers from sub-Saharan Africa. They’re reportedly being held in various parts of the country.
A senior team of the UNHCR is in Rabat hoping to meet with the asylum seekers, who may have been caught up in Morocco’s overall migration problems. This is in addition to concerns about Africans trying to enter Spanish enclaves in North Africa.
Ron Redmond is a spokesman for the UNHCR. From Geneva, he spoke to English to Africa’s Joe De Capua about the situation in Morocco. He says, “The UN High Commissioner for Refugees is particularly concerned about people who are asylum seekers in the midst of a much larger flow of what are called irregular migrants. These migrants for the most part are looking for a better life in Europe. But among them are a number of asylum seekers, who are fleeing persecution and conflict. And those are the people that we’re worried about. UNHCR sent a team to Morocco on the 11th of October. We wanted to get access to those people who are of concern to UNHCR. Many of them would have UNHCR documents proving that they are of concern to us. And so far our team has not been given that access and are still in Rabat awaiting authorization from the Moroccans to go to the field to find these people.”
The exact number of possible asylum seekers is unknown.
In related news, UNHCR has sent missions the past few weeks to the Spanish enclaves of Melilla and Ceuta and to the Canary Islands. Many sub-Saharan Africans have tried to gain access to Europe through these areas.