Spanish mums ‘trapped’ by Moroccan baby ban

Fifty Spanish families who adopted Moroccan babies a year and a half ago are not being allowed to take the children back home with them to Spain.

Spanish mums 'trapped' by Moroccan baby ban
“We’re not going to abandon our children, as desperate as we may be,” Maribel explains. File Photo: Chalky Lives/Flickr

Monica Díaz first met her adopted son Abdallatif in an orphanage in Rabat when he was not even a month old.

Nearly two years on, new adoption laws in Morocco mean she hasn't been able to take him back home with her to the Spanish region of Catalonia.

“They've asked us to be patient, but it’s been nearly 22 months of suffering,” she told Catalan daily La Vanguardia.

Monica, who is self-employed and used to pay Abdallatif regular visits in the early stages of the adoption, has now had to move to Rabat to ensure her son is not taken away from her.

Along with 50 other families, she is waiting for a signature on her son’s passport which will allow him to leave Morocco.

What was once a relatively straight-forward adoption procedure has been hindered by a change of government in the North African country.

Abdelilah Benkirane's moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party, which has ruled since late 2011, introduced a new law which prevents non-residents from adopting Moroccan children.

“They don’t want to sign my son’s leaving permit,” Maribel, a Basque woman who shares a flat with Mónica in Rabat, told La Vanguardia.

The more than 20 Spanish families living in Rabat who find themselves in the same “desperate situation” are in regular talks with the Spanish Embassy in Morocco to ensure the new law isn't applied retroactively.

“We're not going to abandon our children, as desperate as we may be,” Maribel explains.

Adoptions in Morocco take the form of Kafala, by which the adoptive parent is seen more as a guardian and children keep their Muslim names to guarantee they don't forget their roots or religion.

In most cases Kafala is restricted to Muslims or converts to Islam. 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Morocco puts brakes on migrant flow as Spain and EU pay out

The number of migrants arriving by sea in Spain has plunged with Morocco stopping boat departures since signing lucrative agreements with Madrid and Brussels, experts say.

Morocco puts brakes on migrant flow as Spain and EU pay out
Migrants climbed over the fence in Ceuta to reach Spain earlier this month.Photo: AFP

So far this year 15,683 migrants have arrived by sea, 45 percent down on the first eight months of 2018, according to Spanish interior ministry figures.   

Spain became the main entry point for migrants seeking a better life in Europe in 2018 after Italy closed its ports and Greece began sending migrants back to Turkey under a 2016 agreement with the European Union (EU).

But that is no longer the case. The most used migrant sea route to Europe is once again from the  eastern Mediterranean to Greece,  the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says.

Moroccan authorities are stopping boats from setting sail to Spain “whereas before they let them leave”, said Jose Encinas of the AUGC Guardia Civil police association in the southern region of Andalusia where most migrants

A migration expert at an international organisation, who asked not to be named, said: “Moroccan maritime police have deployed means at strategic spots, especially in the north” to curb migrant departures to Spain.

'Migration card'

Eduard Soler, a North Africa geopolitics specialist at Barcelona think tank CIDOB said “Morocco has realised that the migration card is a very effective pressure tool”.

“Times when bilateral relations between Morocco and Spain were difficult have coincided with a rise in (migrant) arrivals in Spain and when they have improved there was a dramatic drop (in arrivals),” he added.

The arrival of migrant ships in Spain had soared in the six months before Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez took power in June 2018.   

He promptly dispatched ministers to Rabat before visiting the Moroccan capital himself in November for talks with King Mohammed VI.   

A state visit followed in February 2019 by Spain's King Felipe VI abd 11 bilateral agreements were signed covering energy to cultural cooperation.   

“There was then a radical drop in the number of migrant arrivals. This does not seem like chance. Morocco decided to change its policy” said Soler.   

The number of migrant arrivals by sea fell to 936 in February 2019 from 4,104 in the previous month,  IOM figures show.   

“When Morocco wants more money, it opens the tap of immigration and when it receives money, it closes it,” said Encinas.   

Spain in August approved €32 million ($35 million) to help Morocco control illegal migration.

In July, Madrid authorised spending €26 million to supply Morocco's interior ministry with vehicles.

EU money

A renegotiated fisheries agreement between Morocco and the European Union– which was approved by the European Parliament in February on the eve of King Felipe's state visit — has also warmed ties between Brussels and Rabat.   

On a visit to Morocco on Wednesday, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska hailed the “police cooperation” between the two countries which had led to a “significant decrease” in migrant arrivals.

Within the EU, Madrid continues to highlight “Morocco's crucial importance as a strategic partner for migration and other issues,” he added.   

The EU gave Morocco €140 million last year to help manage migration.    

“And that seems little,” Spain's Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said last week, before adding Europe should do more for Morocco.   

While Madrid praises its cooperation with Rabat, human rights groups accuse Morocco of forcibly preventing migrants form boarding boats to Spain.

By AFP's Laurence Boutreux 

READ MORE: Ceuta: 155 migrants force entry into Spanish enclave