Once considered a country of emigration, Morocco has gradually become a country of transit and settlement. Due to its geographical location, the effects of its “African policy” and other laws, Morocco has emerged as a country of stay for an increasing number of migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan African countries.
Aware of the policy-relevance of collecting data on the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of migrants and refugees, the High Commission for Planning (HCP) conducted two migration surveys in 2018 and 2021 as part of the MED-HIMS regional programme. In addition, in the context of the global pandemic, the HCP in collaboration with UNHCR implemented a survey to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on refugees in 2020. Both examples demonstrate Morocco’s commitment to producing policy-relevant official statistics on refugees and related populations.
The 2021 forced migration survey
The 2021 forced migration survey is a nationally representative survey, covering many dimensions of forced migration, including migrants in an irregular administrative situation, regularized migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. The survey employed a sample of 3000 migrants, including 2200 regular or irregular migrants and 800 refugees or asylum seekers.
The 2021 survey was the second implementation phase of the MED-HIMS program in Morocco. It built upon the first phase from 2018 and focused on Moroccans living abroad and returning migrants. The survey was also conducted in Egypt (2013), Jordan (2014) and Tunisia (2020-2021) with comparable data produced.
COVID-19 impact survey
In June 2020, the HCP, in partnership with UNHCR, conducted a survey to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economic, social and psychological situation of refugees in Morocco. The survey collected information on the impact of isolation, refugees’ access to health services, education and the labor market in the context of the pandemic. In addition, the initiative sought to compare the situation of refugees with that of the national population based on data collected through another survey conducted in collaboration with the World Bank.
The survey found that 9 out of 10 employed refugee household heads had stopped working during confinement. In other areas, 79.1% of refugee households reported that their children attended school virtually and almost all refugees (95.5%) felt that basic food items were available during confinement.
To complement this study and deepen the analysis, a similar survey is planned for 2022 which will enable trends analysis.
The use of the international recommendations
Efforts aimed to include refugees in Morocco’s national statistical system have integrated the International Recommendations on Refugee Statistics (IRRS). From a methodological perspective, the definitions of the target population used are aligned with the IRRS and the Refugee Convention. In addition, the recommendations have provided operational guidance to facilitate the development of the questionnaires and analysis of the data.
In addition, the IRRS’ emphasis on the role of national statistical systems and national statistical offices to improve the quality of official statistics on refugees helped establish HCP’s engagement on this important topic.