RABAT: Unable to reach Europe in search of a better life, Aliou Ndiaye settled in Morocco instead, giving up on his original goal like thousands of other sub-Saharan African migrants.
“Everyone has the right to go to another country to try their luck,” the 31-year-old former fish exporter from Senegal told AFP.
“Lots of people are trying to reach Europe, but some end up staying to make a living.”
Seven out of 10 West Africa-born migrants stay on the continent, according to a December study by the Moroccan think tank OCP Policy Center.
Discouraged by the danger of passing through countries such as Libya and by harsh policies aimed at preventing migrants going to Europe, many settle in “transit” countries including Morocco.
Ndiaye said he gave up after he realised reaching Spain was “too hard”.
He took on several informal jobs and finally set himself up as a street vendor in Rabat, where he expects to remain.
His story illustrates a trend that has gained increasing attention from Moroccan politicians, civil society and researchers.
Morocco has turned from a transit country into a host country for immigrants, according to the government’s High Commission for Planning.
“The Moroccan authorities have switched from a security approach, which criminalised illegal immigration, to a discourse of integration,” said Mehdi Alioua, former head of a group that helped migrants.