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Moroccans largest non-EU immigrant community in Italy

'A Bridge over the Mediterranean' says joint Italy-Morocco study

29 January, 19:06

    Moroccans largest non-EU immigrant community in Italy Moroccans largest non-EU immigrant community in Italy

    (by Luciana Borsatti). (ANSAmed) - ROME - Over half a million strong, almost half of it women, and with roots going back decades, Italy's Moroccan community is the largest non-European immigrant community (second only to the Romanian one) in the country.

    It is ''A Bridge over the Mediterranean'', says a book published in French and Italian by Idos research center with support from the Moroccan ministry for foreign residents and the Moroccan embassy. The book was launched along with another bilingual volume, this one a joint project with Italy's interior ministry, titled 'Iprit - Immigration Routes to Regularity in Italy. The outlook on Italian-Moroccan collaboration'.

    ''Our country also is one of emigration and immigration, so we share many of Italy's problems'', Ambassador Hassan Abouyoub said at the book launch at the Foreign Press Association headquarters. Immigration is a global phenomenon, and countries on the southern shore of the Mediterranean are in the front lines as the first destination for migrants from sub-Saharan Africa. Morocco was also the first signatory to a June 2013 Mobility Partnership with the European Commission, aimed at promoting legal immigration. As a result, it has enacted various joint initiatives with Italy.

    Among these is the Iprit program, which makes a bilingual guide, courses and information disseminated through social media on Italian immigration regulations available to prospective immigrants, before they leave Morocco.

    There are about three million Moroccans living in Europe, with half a million residing in Spain and Italy respectively, while about one million live in France.

    Moroccans have been immigrating to Italy since the 1980s, with an increase of 346,000 people between 2001 and 2012. They now total 513,000, and they are concentrated in the northern Lombardia and Veneto Regions, as well as in the southern Calabria region.

    This is a stable, family-oriented community, with 64.1% possessing long-term residency permits, 44% of them women, and 30% of them minors. While the women have a low literacy rate and only 23% of them has a job, the 100,000 Moroccan children now enrolled in Italy's school system have become de facto cultural mediators for their families.

    A women's literacy campaign for Moroccans residing in Italy is among the joint projects between Morocco and Italy.

    The Moroccan community in Italy has also suffered its share of the economic downturn and unemployment: of the 300,000 employable people in the community, just 151,000 have a job, with 18.44% of these self-employed.

    Moroccan families are at risk of poverty, because they tend to be single-earner families with many children.

    Unemployment in this community therefore ''is a challenge for us as well'', said Deputy Labor Minister Maria Cecilia Guerra. ''The average Moroccan family income is 53% lower than that of Italian families''.

    Joint efforts must be made to promote integration into the job market as well as society, she added.

    Italian regulations on non-EU citizens enacted in the past decade unfairly restrict Moroccans' access to social services, the Moroccan ambassador said.

    This is a violation of Article 65 of the 2000 agreement between the European Commission and Morocco, which bans discrimination and unequal treatment between Moroccan workers and Italian citizens. (ANSAmed).

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