Saliou Sidi Bey is Senegalese, but has lived in Morocco for two years. He owns a vehicle in which he makes the roundtrip from Casablanca to Dakar and back once a month. The distance between the cities is 3,000 km, and the journey takes six days. Saliou and a co-driver drive fast, day and night, encountering such hazards as sand-drifts on the road, and coping with mechanical breakdowns and police road-checks, where they always seem to have to pay for some irregularity in their paperwork. On the way to Dakar, Saliou carries goods which he has bought in Morocco and hopes to sell at a profit. But on the way back, he generally transports passengers, most of whom are entering Morocco illegally.
An estimated 25,000 to 40,000 people live in Morocco without official residency papers. Most are migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco has for many years been a transit country for people hoping to find a better life in Europe, but as the European Union tightens external border security—through such agencies as Frontex, which co-ordinates border controls between member states—many migrants end up staying. Morocco has become a final migrant destination.
As the number of people living illegally in Morocco rises, the authorities are struggling to cope. Migrants are frequently poverty-stricken, and live in overcrowded conditions, in constant fear of discovery and arrest. A number have reported abuse and ill-treatment, both at the hands of police, and by local civilians. They also claim that if they are caught trying to enter Spain, then they are handed back to Moroccan authorities, rather than being processed by Spanish officials. If such a claim were true, it would be a violation of international law. The situation eased a little in early 2014, when Morocco decided to grant residence permits to thousands of migrants, who had already been living in the country for a number of years.