European Border Force Instructs Morocco In Search And Rescue Missions For Illegal Immigrants.
The European border agency (Frontex) has been instructing Morocco in the interception and rescue of immigrants on the high seas for at least two years.
Since September 2019, Moroccans have participated in four training courses and missions on the high seas in Greece and Malta, according to a response from the agency itself to the German MEP Özlem Demirel, representative of the Die Linke party in the European Parliament.
This Frontex cooperation was known with Libya, but not have any connection with Morocco, and were more in favour of bilateral alliances with Spain than with the EU
Participation in search and rescue missions from countries in which most immigrants leave is a priority for the EU. This is also the case for Spain, which has been working closely with Algeria and Morocco and has financed the training of coastguards in countries such as Senegal and Mauritania for more than a decade.
The strategy of the border control agency, however, is not only to rescue boats and reduce fatalities on these deadly routes but to reinforce neighbouring countries to prevent migrants from reaching European shores in the first place.
European Border Force Mission Training
Frontex does not give any exact details of the content or duration of the courses, but it does provide some clues. The first mission took a Moroccan and an Egyptian representative to the Greek island of Chíos back in September 2019 where they participated as observers in a search and rescue exercise. In January 2020, the experience was repeated again in Malta, this time with theory and practical exercises on boarding boats by the Coast Guard.
Two months later, in March 2020, Moroccan and Egyptian representatives travelled to Estonia where they were presented with the facilities, resources and technologies of the local authorities.
Already in a pandemic, in December 2020, representatives of the Gendarmerie, the Royal Navy and the Moroccan Minister of the Interior virtually participated in a technical meeting with Frontex experts in which they “introduced each other and presented the respective activities” of their coastguard.
Morocco’s collaboration in helping migrants in the Alboran Strait and Sea, where Frontex has Operation Indalo deployed, goes through ups and downs. In 2018, when more than 57,000 immigrants arrived on Spanish shores, a historical record, it became clear then that the dynamics of the rescues with Spain were not flowing- better collaboration was needed.
Spanish authorities claimed a lack of response or slow reaction of the Moroccan Royal Navy when they were informed that there was a dinghy in distress for example. It is estimated that a third of Maritime Rescue operations are carried out in Moroccan waters.
After more than a year of border lockdown, Spain and Morocco reached an agreement to facilitate the quick return of between 110 and 120 young Moroccans who had fled from Ceuta, 60 of them only arrived last weekend.
“It is a process that has been developed between the two governments,” explained sources from the Government Delegation. The action, managed in record time by the Ministry of the Interior, represents an exception to the position held up to now by Rabat, which normally only accepts the repatriation of its nationals trapped in Ceuta or Melilla.