Established by Fathi Ibrahim Bayoud 2005 - Homs

Syrians in Morocco and Algeria: Life and Investments

Syrian Refugees | 2018-04-19 13:39:00
Syrians in Morocco and Algeria: Life and Investments
   Tangier city in Morocco
(Eqtsad)- The harsh reality of war has scattered Syrians throughout the globe in a desperate search for safety and stability that have been missing in Syria for years.

Morocco was one of the countries that took in Syrians since the very beginning, as approximately 3,500 Syrians have entered the country over the course of the past seven years.

Numbers of Syrians living in Morocco surged notably in 2016 by 70%, going from 2,385 in November 2015 to 3,444 Syrians in April 2016.

How are Syrians’ lives in Morocco?

Life varies from one city to another in Morocco. It is a fact, however, that Morocco doesn’t recognize Syrians as refugees because Morocco doesn’t acknowledge the right of asylum. Morocco refers to Syrians who lack a residency status as “illegal immigrants”.

“Zahra Mohammad”, a journalist who lives in Tangier city told Eqtisad, “It is hard to live here. We aren’t recognized as refugees, and we haven’t been able to acquire residencies even though we applied multiple times, but we are always rejected. Conditions for work are difficult without a residency status, as a Syrian who lacks one can’t work with companies, which forces him to get into free labor which is also difficult since it requires one to go through procedures with the UNHCR.”

“Syrians (who don’t have a residency status) can make 2500 Moroccan dirham ($272) at best,” Zahra noted. “rent rates for less-than-medium houses are around 500 dirham ($54). That amount can’t fully cover a family’s needs.”

“Abu Mohammad”, who came to Morocco four years ago, spoke to Eqtisad about the required procedures for a residency status which requires a lease agreement, a passport, and a bank statement, in addition to a proof of work with a company or of an ownership of a project.

“Abu Mohammad” noted that he was able to acquire a residency thanks to his father who has been in ownership of a company in the Moroccan city Kenitra for 20 years. Additionally, “Abu Mohammad” shad light on the facilitations the Moroccan government made for Syrians applying for a residency.

Moreover, the journalist “Zahra Mohammad” spoke of the difficulties that many Syrians come across when renewing their residency status even if they entered Morocco years before the start of the conflict.
On the jobs available for Syrians, “Abu Yasser”, who lives in Morocco, said that a significant number of Syrians work at digging wells in shifts that start at 7:00 AM and ends at 10:00 PM for a monthly salary of 1000 dirham ($109) .

How much investment projects cost?

Most of the Syrian investors in Morocco had travelled and settled there years before the conflict.

“Abu Mohammad” spoke to Eqtisad about the cost of investment projects in Morocco, “Costs for launching a project in Morocco are varied, but it is $20,000 as a minimum. The bigger the project the more it costs. Opening a premium restaurant, for example, might cost up to $100,000.”

When asked about the projects that would cost $20,000, “Abu Yasser” responded, “A person could buy a machine to dig wells and run it interpedently” noting that an enterprise of this sort could generate a decent profit considering the high demand for digging wells in Morocco, according to him.

Nonetheless, Syrian investors are almost exclusively the Syrians who had come to Morocco before the conflict, compared to a very few who came in the wake of the conflict in light of the increasingly complicated procedures in Morocco, which makes movement very difficult.

Education in Morocco for Syrians

Educations was one of a very few sectors that Syrians were afforded in Morocco without a residency.

Journalist “Zahra Mohammad” told Eqtisad about the educational situation for Syrians, “Elementary and secondary schools allow Syrians to enroll with or without a residency. It requires a registry or an I.D. for the student in question, as well as a copy of the passport and a residential address.”

In contrast, enrolling in universities often requires a residency status, while those who wish to complete their education in private universities can do so easily with no need for a residency.

“Zahra Mohammad” summarized life in Morocco as “a degradation and a slow death for Syrian refugees” or “illegal immigrants” as the Moroccan government describes them.

A look at Syrians in Algeria
The situation in Algeria is different from Morocco, its neighboring country, for Syrians.

“Abu Ja’far”, a Palestinian-Syrian who lives in Algeria, told Eqtisad, “Life is different here that in Morocco. Job opportunities are available for Syrians without the condition of a residency status, as a Syrian worker can secure a job for a monthly salary of 45,000 Algerian dinar ($473) in case he was a regular worker who doesn’t have a specific occupation. In that case, the monthly salary could increase up to more than 136,000 Algerian dinars ($1,193).”

Rent rates vary from one area to another. Renting a house, for instance, in the capital could cost up to 34,000 ($298) and goes down the deeper you go into suburbs, where it goes below $100 outside the capital.

“Morocco and Algeria have one thing in common, though, which is the issue of entering the country and acquiring a residency. Syrians, Palestinians, and Syrian-Palestinians can’t enter Algeria anymore without a well-connected Algerian sponsor.”

Acquiring a residency remains considerably difficult in light of the complex procedures ahead of granting a Syrian a residency status which could last for years.

It should be noted that Morocco has enhanced its security on the borders with Algeria in order to prevent the flow of Syrians illegally into Morocco. Some Syrians manage to enter Morocco via Mauritania even though it is a very risky trip.

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