• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

Morocco and UN refugee agency sign agreement to strengthen cooperation

News Stories, 20 July 2007

© UNHCR/A Mahecic
The UN refugee agency and the government of Morocco signed an agreement on Friday that will strengthen their cooperation as the region deals with a rising level of mixed migration flows.

GENEVA, July 20 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and the government of Morocco signed an agreement on Friday that will strengthen their cooperation as the region deals with a rising level of mixed migration flows.

High Commissioner António Guterres and the Government of Morocco, represented by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Omar Hilale, signed the accord de siège at UNHCR's headquarters in Geneva.

"We are strengthening a significant and long-running partnership. Today especially, given the number of people moving in mixed migration flows along the continent's Atlantic and Mediterranean shores, this agreement is important to ensure we are able to help people in need of protection," said Guterres.

The agreement raises the status of the UNHCR office in Rabat to a full-fledged representation. UNHCR staff working in Morocco will benefit from enhanced channels of communication with all relevant government departments, central and local authorities, and partner organizations.

"With the signing of this cooperation agreement between the Kingdom of Morocco and UNHCR, we will be able to strengthen and take advantage of our cooperation under the best possible conditions," said Hilale.

Morocco announced its intention to sign a cooperation agreement with UNHCR on World Refugee Day (June 20).

The signing of the accord de siège is a clear expression of the expanding and deepening cooperation between the Moroccan authorities and the UNHCR operation in the country. The focus of this cooperation is protection of refugees within broader mixed migratory movements affecting Morocco and the North African region.

The joint work of UNHCR and Moroccan authorities will also concentrate on finding durable solutions for refugees, particularly through voluntary return, as well as self-reliance and targeted use of resettlement.

Morocco was the first country on the African continent to receive UNHCR staff in 1959 and to allow UNHCR to open an honorary delegation in 1965. Currently, the UNHCR office in Rabat has registered some 650 refugees recognized under its mandate. Some 800 asylum applications are pending, mainly from nationals from sub-Saharan African countries.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Capacity Building

Helping national authorities meet their obligations to the uprooted.

Livelihoods

We help refugees, refugee returnees and internally displaced people tap their potential and build a platform for a better future.

The High Commissioner

António Guterres, who joined UNHCR on June 15, 2005, is the UN refugee agency's 10th High Commissioner.

Sighted off Spain's Canary Islands

Despite considerable dangers, migrants seeking a better future and refugees fleeing war and persecution continue to board flimsy boats and set off across the high seas. One of the main routes into Europe runs from West Africa to Spain's Canary Islands.

Before 2006, most irregular migrants taking this route used small vessels called pateras, which can carry up to 20 people. They left mostly from Morocco and the Western Sahara on the half-day journey. The pateras have to a large extent been replaced by boats which carry up to 150 people and take three weeks to reach the Canaries from ports in West Africa.

Although only a small proportion of the almost 32,000 people who arrived in the Canary Islands in 2006 applied for asylum, the number has gone up. More than 500 people applied for asylum in 2007, compared with 359 the year before. This came at a time when the overall number of arrivals by sea went down by 75 percent during 2007.

Sighted off Spain's Canary Islands

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visited Cameroon in late March to put a spotlight on the situation there of tens of thousands of refugees from Nigeria. These people have escaped mounting violence by insurgents in the north-east of their country. Among the places that Guterres visited during his March 24-25 visit is the Minawao Refugee Camp, where many of the uprooted have been relocated.

Situated some 120 kilometres from the dangerous border area with Nigeria in Cameroon's Far North region, Minawao camp is currently home to 33,000 Nigerian refugees, mainly from Borno state. Many of the arrivals are traumatized and in need of material and psycho-social help. They told the High Commissioner of losing their homes and belongings as well as members of their families. Some were injured. In total, an estimated 74,000 Nigerians have found refuge in Cameroon while cross-border incursions from Nigeria have displaced 96,000 Cameroonians. UNHCR photographer Hélène Caux also visited Minawao to hear the individual stories.

Victims of Conflict in Nigeria Find Safety in Cameroon Camp

UNHCR chief meets Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

On 1 August, UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres travelled to northern Burkina Faso with the United States' Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BRPM), Anne Richard. In Damba camp, they met with Malian refugees who had fled northern Mali in the past six months to escape the ongoing conflict and political instability. To date, more than 250,000 Malian refugees have fled their homes and found refuge in neighbouring countries, including 107,000 in Burkina Faso alone. The UN refugee agency has only received one-third of the US$153 million it needs to provide life-saving assistance such as shelter, water, sanitation, health services, nutrition and protection to the refugees. UNHCR fears that the volatile political and humanitarian situation in Mali could lead to further outflows to neighbouring countries.

UNHCR chief meets Malian refugees in Burkina Faso

Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee CampPlay video

Kenya: High Commissioner Visits Dadaab Refugee Camp

Last week the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, António Guterres completed a visit to Kenya and Somalia where he met with the Presidents of the two countries, as well as Somali refugees and returnees.
Mediterranean Drownings: The High Commissioner's CommentsPlay video

Mediterranean Drownings: The High Commissioner's Comments

The High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres expressed shock at news from the Mediterranean that hundreds of people were missing after their boat sank and called anew for urgent action to prevent such tragedies in the future. The latest incident involves the capsizing of a double-deck boat on Monday in waters about 120 kilometers south of Italy's Lampedusa Island.
Cameroon: High Commissioner Meets Nigerian RefugeesPlay video

Cameroon: High Commissioner Meets Nigerian Refugees

In Minawao camp, Cameroon, Nigerian refugees get a chance to tell their stories to High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres during his visit.