By Soraya Dali-Balta, IFRC
Leaving behind countries torn apart by conflict and insecurity, diseases, or poverty, thousands of vulnerable people from African and Middle Eastern nations have found refuge in Morocco on their journey to a safer and better life. Morocco currently hosts approximately 100,000 people of different nationalities, with Cameroon, Guinea, and the Senegal being the top countries of origin. But in the past few years, the number of people coming from Syria, Iraq and Yemen has significantly increased, with the majority aspiring to cross the border to Libya and sail towards European countries.
In 2014, the Moroccan Red Crescent signed an agreement with the Ministry of Moroccan Expatriates and Migration Affairs, in which both parties pledged to respond together to the humanitarian needs of these vulnerable communities. The Red Crescent and the ministry have worked together to ensure health services for refugees, in addition to providing them with crucial relief items.
Throughout the past months, Moroccan Red Crescent volunteers have distributed food parcels for adults and children, hygiene and survival kits, and milk for infants. At least 6,000 refugees have received support from the National Society in the past month alone. In cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Moroccan Red Crescent provided warm clothes for those in greatest need ahead of the cold winter weather.
“The Red Crescent also helps newcomers to register their arrival in the country, and so far 27,000 refugees have legalized their status,” said Dr Mohammed Bendali, head of first aid, youth, volunteering and disaster management division at the Moroccan Red Crescent. “The National Society will continue this much needed support over the coming months,” Dr Bendali added.
Moroccan Red Crescent also cooperates with local authorities and non-governmental organizations in providing for the needs of refugees. After legalizing their status, many refugees choose to help their fellow nationals by volunteering with humanitarian organizations. Moroccan Red Crescent encourages this type of participation as one of the most effective ways to engage with new arrivals.