Skip to content

How Lockdowns Have Changed the Course of Female African Migrants

Sylvi arrived in Morocco after a weeks-long journey via the Niger desert, considered one of the most dangerous routes for sub-Saharan migrants and refugees who want to reach Europe. She had fled Cameroon, where she faced gender-based violence. Sylvi says making that journey was far less daunting than the reality she now faces in the North African country after her boat to Europe was stopped before it could cross the Strait of Gibraltar to Spain. Many of the women migrants from sub-Saharan Africa who are seeking to reach Europe also face a bleak situation in Morocco. With no documents and no access to state services, many rely on limited support from local NGOs and have little choice but to beg for money in order to feed their families and pay rent. They also face harassment from members of the local community as well as exploitation at the hands of gangs who control the boats that would take them to Spain. Since the government imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 20 in an attempt to contain the coronavirus outbreak, people have only been allowed to go outside to buy food or medicine, meaning it has become even harder to earn money or even to beg.