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Q&A: The Global Compact that Respects Human Rights During all Stages of Migration

IPS Correspondent Youssef Lakhder spoke to YOUNOUS ARBAOUI, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)

Amid the hustle and bustle of the two-day Global Compact for Migration, IPS spoke to Younous Arbaoui, advocacy and coordination officer at the National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM), about the importance of the GCM in tackling the migration challenge that the world faces.  

Inter Press Service (IPS): What is National Migrant Protection Platform (PNPM)?

Younous Arbaoui (YA): Formed in 2009, the National Migrant Protection the National Migrant Protection Platform (known by its French acronym PNPM) is a network of civil society associations working on and advocating for migration. Thanks to their fieldwork, the PNPM capitalises on information it receives to advocate for the human rights of migrants. We work on three main axes: the first is the legal protection of migrants, the second is the protection of children, and the third is access to health services. Recently we started working on access to socio-professional training and to employment.

IPS: What is the purpose of your network’s in Morocco?

YA: We focus on advocacy, so we do not provide direct services to migrants. We advocate for their rights, such as the right of justice that is still not effective in Morocco. We also engage in dialogue with ministers, particularly on health, to encourage the authorities to provide access to health services for migrants, especially secondary and tertiary services, which are not yet guaranteed. When it comes to child protection, we advocate for the rights of children, such as the right to identity. This was achieved recently, with the Minister of Health issuing a ministerial letter explaining the need to give birth notices to ensure children can confirm their identities.

IPS: What are the benefits of the adopted Global Compact for Migration?

YA: The pact, even if it is not legally binding, is a document of reference for us as an advocacy player, and as Morocco welcomed this conference, it will have a moral obligation to respect and implement it. Usually we refer to the convention of human rights, but now it is possible to also use the Compact, especially with regard to accessing services, as objective 15 recommends States provide basic services to migrants no matter their status. It’s true that things won’t change immediately, it takes time.

IPS: What will change at the global level?

YA: The Pact emphasises global collaboration between states on migration. Some people are criticising the pact as they say it will only help countries in the North and not those in the South, because it will facilitate the readmission and return of migrants who are, for example, in Europe. That’s true, but the readmission and return process must respect human rights, also, and so it is good the Compact deals with this. We are not advocating for migrants to be returned, but that when this happens that their rights are still respected. The good thing about the pact is that it says the human rights of migrants must be respected during all the stages of the migratory process, from the country of origin right up to and including any return process.

IPS: How do you react to accusations that some NGOs receive money to prevent migrants [from leaving Morocco]?

YA: Yes, it is true that this accusation exists—they say that civil society receives money from the European Union to hold migrants in Morocco. But it is an old story that should be dismissed. Morocco has been a country of reception for several years, and the fact that the Kingdom has introduced a policy for national asylum and a migration strategy to integrate them, and the fact our associations help migrants here in Morocco, is testament that the accusation is unfounded.

Let us not forget that the way to Europe is dangerous. There are a lot of migrants who die at sea, and this factor should not be forgotten. Contrary to the accusation, what should be noted are the humanist efforts by the associations and the State, who try by all means to save migrant lives. The control of Morocco’s maritime borders is the country’s responsibility, and so carrying that out does not make the country one of the constables of Europe. We must not see things like that, because doing this saves lives.

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