Morocco promises UN refugee team access to persons of concern

21 October 2005

Morocco has promised access for a senior United Nations refugee team that has been waiting since last week for government permission to visit sub-Saharan African migrants reportedly being held in various parts of the country, the agency said today.

Although no firm figures are available, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has evidence that dozens of sub-Saharan Africans holding agency documentation have been picked up by Moroccan authorities in a crackdown on irregular migration.

On Wednesday, noting that the team had still not received permission, the Director of UNHCR's Bureau for Central Asia, South West Asia, North Africa and the Middle East, Ekber Menemencioglu, called on the Government not to forcibly return these persons to a country where they might face persecution.

Following a meeting yesterday at which government officials said access would be granted, a further session was scheduled for today to work out concrete arrangements, UNHCR spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told a news briefing in Geneva.

"Although this is primarily a migration issue involving many different actors, we agreed that UNHCR has a role to play with the asylum seekers and refugees among the larger flow of people," she said.


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