Rabat reiterates refusal to host disembarkation platforms

Moroccan government spokesman says creation of reception centres for migrants is only attempt to externalize the problem.

CASABLANCA - Government spokesman Mustapha El Khalfi reiterated on Thursday Morocco’s categorical refusal to host disembarkation platforms for migrants.

“The creation of reception centres for migrants is only an attempt to externalize the problem and is not a solution,” said Khalfi told the press.

He stressed the need for a long-term solution rather than an immediate circumstantial solution.

EU leaders are considering setting up “disembarkation platforms” in North African countries where officials could quickly screen refugees, rescued at sea, who are eligible for protection and deport other migrants to their countries of origin.

But Morocco rejected the idea of “disembarkation platforms.”

“Morocco has chosen to defend a humane and multidimensional approach to the migration issue,” said Khalfi, adding that Morocco has led by example by deciding to regularize the situation of more than 50,000 migrants and responding favourably to some 3,000 applications to take part in the voluntary return programme.

The North African country has become a destination for Sub-Saharan Africans fleeing poverty and war in their countries. But many of them use it as a platform to cross to Spain by land and sea.

Khalfi said that Morocco has taken the initiative to address the migration issue at the African level.

“Morocco cannot accept a situation that is at odds with the human depth that is inherent to resolving immigration issues,” said Khalfi.

More than 40,000 migrants have made it to Spain since the start of the year, including around 35,000 by sea, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Morocco said last month it had foiled 54,000 bids so far this year by people trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.

Some 80 smuggling networks have been dismantled in the same period, according to Morocco’s interior ministry.

Khalfi stressed the need for to assume "collective responsibility" to solve the issue.

He said that European leaders, including the Spanish Minister for Migration, welcome Morocco's migration policy, highlighting the imperative of a long-term solution that privileges the human dimension and that will be the fruit of a joint coordination.

“There is no reason to accept the idea of ​​creating reception centres on Moroccan soil,” said Khalfi.