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localisation : Morocco

Morocco

Background and News

With a surface area of 446,550 km², Morocco has 3,500 km of coastline and shares its borders with Algeria, Mauritania, Western Sahara, and Spain. The territory is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean in the west and the Mediterranean Sea in the north. Its administrative and political capital is Rabat, and its economic capital and largest city is Casablanca. The country has a population of 37.5 million.

Morocco is a constitutional, semi-parliamentary, and decentralised monarchy, whose constitution was proposed by King Mohammed VI and passed by referendum in 2011, increasing the powers of parliament, although these are still limited on certain points.

Morocco is the fifth-largest economy in Africa and has recorded one of the highest growth rates in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region.

In 2022, the country’s real GDP growth dropped by 7% compared with the previous year, due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, rising international commodity prices, and a severe drought, which accounted for almost half of the observed slowdown.

In 2023, the country’s economic situation has not improved and the country has been affected by several natural disasters. On September 8, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck the province of Al Haouz, killing over 3,000 people and injuring 6,000, the deadliest earthquake Morocco has ever seen. The earthquake severely affected two regions, Marrakech Safi and Souss Massa, which are home to a total population of 7,197,416. However, this dramatic event had less of an impact on the country’s economy, with the hardest-hit areas accounting for only a modest share of overall GDP. On the other hand, the tourism sector was affected by the earthquake, but only temporarily. The Moroccan authorities embarked on an ambitious reform program and, in the end, the country preserved the stability of its currency, strengthened its foreign exchange reserves, maintained good access to international financial markets, and continued to attract large volumes of foreign direct investment.

Morocco’s human rights record has improved since the end of King Hassan II’s reign in 1999. Although the new constitution of 2011 reserved an important place for human rights, laws sanctioning these human rights, which were now unconstitutional, have not been repealed by governments. Since 2019, the Moroccan Human Rights Association deplores an “escalation of violations of human rights and public and individual freedoms” in Morocco.

The situation of children

Morocco ratified the International Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993. The country is very attached to its traditions, and children are still considered the property of the family.

Underage marriage still affected 14% of girls during the 2015-2021 period.

In Morocco, 24 children are abandoned every day, 30,000 are orphans and 60,000 live in institutions. These children live in very difficult conditions, and their basic rights (an identity, a family, an education, access to healthcare) are not guaranteed.

In 2020, Unicef published a report on the situation of children in Morocco, outlining the progress made in achieving children’s rights in Morocco, but also identifying the many challenges that remain.

In recent years, infant and child mortality has fallen from 47 deaths per thousand live births to 22.16 in the space of 15 years. The rate of assisted childbirth has also risen, from 73.6% to 86.6% between 2011 and 2018. However, children living in rural areas and those whose families are the poorest have been disadvantaged: in 2018, infant mortality was 25.99 deaths per thousand live births in rural areas versus 18.81 in urban areas, and the percentage of assisted births was 74.2% in rural areas versus 96.6% in urban areas. Children living in rural areas are also more affected by poverty: 12.1% of children live in poverty, and among them, the most exposed are those living in rural areas or in households where the head of the family has little or no formal education. Only 27.4% of children experience no deprivation of access to their rights, while 32.9% experience at least one deprivation and 39.7% are deprived of at least two of their rights (water, sanitation, nutrition, health, medical coverage, education and information). In recent years, the child mortality rate has also fallen sharply, from 81 deaths per 1,000 births in 1990 to 18 deaths per 1,000 births in 2021.

In terms of children’s education, Morocco has almost achieved universal enrolment at primary level, and inequalities between girls and boys and between rural and urban areas will soon have disappeared. However, from secondary level onwards, inequalities widen, and poverty is a disadvantage for many children and teenagers in their transition to working life.

In recent years, Morocco has embarked on sectoral reforms and programs aimed at modernizing the delivery of basic social services in both urban and rural areas. A process of regionalization and reform of social protection has been put in place, aimed at making systems more efficient and protecting the most disadvantaged social strata. However, more needs to be done as inequalities persist in access to obstetric and neonatal care between urban and rural areas, between regions and between socio-economic levels.

SOS Children’s Villages in Morocco

SOS Children’s Villages in Morocco has been active since 1985, supporting over 2,000 children in 5 Children’s Villages in Agadir, El Jadida, Aït Ourir, Dar Bouazza and Imzouren, with a sixth under construction in Dakhla. The association works through 3 intervention programs: protection of children who have lost their families, prevention among vulnerable families through 7 family strengthening programs, and socio-professional integration of young people. In its 39 years of existence, thanks to an average of 20 years’ care for children, more than 600 young people have become independent.

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