Home News Moroccan ambassador slams migrants who landed on Algarve shores: “it was a choice of the young people” to come here

Moroccan ambassador slams migrants who landed on Algarve shores: “it was a choice of the young people” to come here

Published on 04/02/2020

A month and a half after the first group of illegal immigrants arrived in Portugal on Monte Gordo Beach, in the Algarve, the Moroccan ambassador to Lisbon, Othmane Bahnini, revealed that the Portuguese government has not officially informed him of anything, nor has he been able to confirm the nationality of the total 19 young men who arrived throughout December and January in the Algarve.

The diplomatic representative guaranteed journalists that he was not informed of the situation by the Government or by the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF). Mr. Bahnini admits that it might happen in the “next few days”, but remains waiting. Despite his hope, it is inexplicable that there has been such a lengthy delay, as the first group of illegal immigrants arrived in Monte Gordo on December 11th of last year, with the second identified off the coast of Olhão last week.

The 19 young men, who say they left from the Moroccan city of El Jadida, remain in the custody of the Portuguese Refugee Council.

The Moroccan ambassador explained that he only learned of the case from the news: “We are following the situation through the media, we have not yet been contacted by the authorities. I think that this may happen in the next few days, but for now we are still waiting”, he said.

The high diplomatic representative made it clear that he was unable to confirm the nationality of the young people: “They say they are Moroccans, but we have not yet had the opportunity to identify people. As ambassador of Morocco, I cannot confirm 100% that they are Moroccans.”

Even without confirming the direct connection to Morocco, Mr. Bahnini dismissed worries over the idea of ??a new route for illegal immigration, and believes that the arrivals to the Algarve were isolated cases.

The ambassador stresses that illegal entry was a voluntary choice of the young people and refuses to associate Morocco with the refugee label: “This is something we cannot accept. Morocco is a stable country with a prosperous economy. There is no situation that compels people to go to Europe in this way “, he said. Despite the lack of communication with authorities, Mr. Bahnini was keen to underline that relations between Portugal and Morocco are well.

The diplomatic representative stated that he is willing to collaborate with the authorities and hopes that the matter will be discussed at the highest level shortly: “The Portuguese Minister for Foreign Affairs was in Morocco not long ago, the Portuguese Minister for Home Affairs should also go soon to discuss these and other issues because our relationship is very strong, there are many connections between the two countries.”

The request for international protection of the 11 individuals identified last week is currently being analysed by the SEF. The first group that landed in Monte Gordo in December saw their request refused, yet the eight young people can still appeal the decision with the legal support of the Portuguese Council for Refugees.