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MSF in Morocco, 2009
Field Staff: 30
Reason for Intervention:
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Due to the migration policies adopted by the Moroccan authorities, the global economic situation, the financial crisis and rising unemployment, the number of migrants arriving in Morocco decreased in 2009. However, the migration of young women is still high, mainly because of trafficking networks. Many are victims of sexual violence and suffer from resulting health problems.
In the cities of Oujda, Rabat and Casablanca, teams used mobile clinics to reach people in need of healthcare and referred those with more complex problems to the Moroccan health authorities. However the projects in Rabat and Casablanca closed in December when direct access to the national healthcare system improved for migrants and the MSF program was no longer needed.
In 2009, MSF treated 5,550 patients and provided help to many people who had suffered from sexual violence. However, as teams considered these people to represent only a small proportion of those who had been attacked and in May, they began asking all patients directly whether they had experienced sexual violence. 38 per cent reported that they had.
Currently, migrants are being expelled from Morocco to a ‘no-mans land’ known as ‘Kandahar’ on the border between Mauritania and Morocco. In Mauritania, they are detained by the authorities and kept in a detention center called Guantanamito. During 2009, an exploratory mission was conducted in Mauritania and, based on this, a project will open in 2010 to provide medical care to the migrants. A further assessment will take place in 2010 in Argelia on the eastern border with Algeria to assess the needs of migrants along the migration routes there.
Woman from Democratic Republic of Congo interviewed in Morocco
‘We came on foot. To make this journey on foot you have to be very strong. You have only the water that you can carry, and when this water runs out you have to drink water that you get from camels. There is so much sand, and when you are with small children, it’s hard, it’s really hard. When we arrived in Gadamés we had only a few things to eat. Some men came to us and said, “We need women”. I asked them why they needed women. They told me again that they needed women and started to beat me. They were so strong. I was raped. I cried to God but there was no miracle that could help me escape. You find yourself wishing for death. But death didn’t come.’
MSF has worked in Morocco since 1997.