„Why did you come to Spain and leave Morocco?“ - „Because there’s no work and no future.“
This is a question I often ask the youth here in my city of my volunteering service as I quickly realized that the Moroccans are the majority of the migrants as the Turkish are back in Germany. But every young person I asked in my youth center, where 90 percent are represented by them, the answer was still the same — quitting the desperate environment and the hope for a better life in Europe.
According to the International Organization of Migration in 2018, 27.5 percent of 15 to 24-year-olds (nearly 1.7 million of the whole population) are not at school, unemployed or lack any skills. Maybe therefore it can be seen that more than one out of every five migrants in Morocco is under 19 years old. Additionally, it has to be mentioned that the aftermath of the arabic spring in 2011, the growing poverty and the repressive environment are the key factors for the increase of migration as reported by social researchers. Consequently, for the youth there are way more factors for leaving the country, which is also mostly supported by their parents to return one day with documents and money, than to stay.
When I was waiting for my coordinator at a bench on a main square on my first day to get to know my placement and my tutor, an elderly person passed by and asked me what for are the people from a disabled facility promoting. After I told him that they want to draw attention to the international day of mental health, he was curious to know my nationality. Due to the fact that many people think I am an African foreigner, I answered that I am German. Conforming to his surprised face, he couldn’t handle my response, wherefore he stated, while drawing a hijab around his face, he only saw moroccan women wearing it. I could not blame him for considering the nationality the same as the religion because when I looked at the streets there were barely any other group of foreigner represented, let alone africans.
If you told a causal person about this little chat and asked them what the reason behind is, probably they would give a response related to the refugee crises back in 2015 until 2017. With a picture of a huge amount of people squeezing on weak paddle boats, other jetski, inflatable vessels and fishing boats nearly collapsing in the sea. Considerable? Partly, it is the reality how enthusiastic individuals, searching for a new life, are getting their way into the European continent but that applies to the new wave of emigrants. Indeed, the migration flow from Morocco to Spain started occurring from the mid-1980s, many years ahead the big refugee wave in the 21st century, in response to a rising demand for low-skilled labor in agriculture, construction and services (de Haas 2014; Ennaji 2014; Gabrielli 2015). Quite similar to the situation in Germany after WWII, when workers from Turkey were attracted to work in order to rebuild the destroyed economy. Subsequently, the first Moroccans’ settlement were seen mainly in areas needing agricultural and service-oriented labor, such as Catalonia, Madrid and Andalusia. However, it did not only last in those areas, so that the recent migration has extended to other regions, including the less “traditional“ destinations such as La Rioja, Navarra and Aragon in the North (Gabrielli 2015). So in other words, firstly unmarried male work seekers made their way up here to Spain for just a limited time, though later wish for permanent settlement despite harder controls has risen besides a growing number of arriving women. Nowadays, since Spain became a destination for migration before the usual countries, for instance France, Belgium and Netherlands, in 2001, nearly one million Moroccans living in Spain.
A normal day in the youth center, La Kampana, some young male Moroccans sitting on the couches talking and discussing passionately with each other about different topics in arabic and amazigh, an ethnical language spoken by the berbers who are represented the most in Morocco. A colleague joins them while I assumed hearing some insults occasionally. Her face brighting from joy of hearing the arabic language even though she points out multiple times that she can’t understand them and that her vocabulary is only limited to a few words and numbers, like habibi (friend; babe) and wahid (1), ithnan (2). “Don’t worry.“, assures her a boy, “I’ll teach you and in some month, you’re going understand us, too.“
While this long history of migration sounds like the maghrebins should be finally integrated in the Spanish society, in reality that is not the case. Behind a history there are always two sides, a pleasing but also a rough side. In October 2019 12,500 menas, underaged children and adolescence reaching the Iberian peninsular, were registered and as already mentioned Spain has enjoyed its reputation for being seen long as tolerant and refugee friendly. In fact, getting integrated in the Spanish society by having an own income and able to take care of oneself is so hard. Since foreigners wanting to work need next to a valid stay permit a working permission, which you get by having a contract with more than 40 hours per week for a year or two part-time contracts, prospects for work look poorly. Moreover, only one percent of the menas, meaning just 1,250 are able to build a more or less satisfying future. On top of that, seeking asylum can take from 6 months up to 2 years to get a decision leading to a delay in entering the labour market and a “force“ for accepting undeclared work.
https://www.zeit.de/zustimmung?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.zeit.de%2Fpolitik%2Fausland%2F2019-09%2Fmigration-spanien-minderjaehrige-marroko-barcelona-perspektivlosigkeit%2Fkomplettansicht (last opened on 02/05/2020)
https://www.demographic-research.org/volumes/vol40/37/40-37.pdf (last opened on 02/05/2020)
https://www.ft.com/content/d7a5e244-fd14-11e8-aebf-99e208d3e521 (last opened on 02/05/2020)
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/23/we-would-rather-die-than-stay-there-the-refugees-crossing-from-morocco-to-spain (last opened on 02/05/2020)
https://www.tichyseinblick.de/kolumnen/aus-aller-welt/marokkos-machtspiel-funktioniert-wie-am-schnuerchen/ (last opened on 02/05/2020)