Mahamat Salah Sati (Chad), UN Volunteer Community Based Associate Protection Officer, at UNHCR office in Rabat, Morocco.
Mahamat Salah Sati (Chad), UN Volunteer Community Based Associate Protection Officer, at UNHCR office in Rabat, Morocco.

Ensuring the protection of refugees and asylum seekers in Morocco

UN Volunteers support the work of UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Morocco in ensuring the safety of refugees. A team of six UN Volunteers has been serving with UNHCR Morocco for the past two years, delivering results in community protection and refugee reception.

According to UNHCR, there are more than 19,000 refugees and asylum seekers from 48 countries registered in Morocco (as of April 2022). Thus, Morocco is considered both a host and a transit country, which makes UNHCR’s mission crucial to ensure protection of refugees and access to asylum procedures. 

Mahamat Salah Sati (Chad) joined UNHCR’s office in Rabat as a Child Protection Officer in 2018. As his role evolved to cover protection aspects, he became a Community Based Associate Protection Officer in 2021, and UNHCR’s focal point for the communication with refugees and asylum seekers for participative assessments and for individual case management. 

"With support from colleagues and partners, Mahamat Salah coordinates the conduct of participatory evaluation exercises in different localities," explains Sandra Flores, Mahamat Salah’s supervisor, who is a Protection Officer at UNHCR Morocco.

At UNHCR, we regularly reach out to refugees and organize discussions to better understand their needs, their difficulties and collect their recommendations. Mahamat Salah is the coordination champion of these exercises. --Sandra Flores, UNHCR Protection Officer, Morocco

Mahamat Salah has been facilitating community dialogue and strengthening the community-based protection strategy. By setting up community-level communication groups, he helped reinforce community mobilization and facilitated communication with refugees and asylum seekers. Since 2021, he has carried out around ten participatory assessments which included over 800 refugees and asylum seekers.

"I am extremely happy to have Mahamat Salah as a colleague," Sandy says. "His contribution to the team is essential, because he brings a lot of expertise to UNHCR Morocco.”

"Having worked for UNHCR in Chad for a long time, he has great technical expertise, and he has great listening capacities and outreach competencies, which I greatly value within the team," Sandra explains.

Zineb Marzouki is at the frontline of receiving refugees and asylum seekers. She is a national UN Volunteer serving as a Receptionist with UNHCR’s Reception Unit. She manages phone calls to address the needs and requests of refugees and asylum seekers and provide them with information. In addition, she updates UNHCR’s database through the agency’s case management software application, while protecting the dignity and privacy of individuals throughout the entire process.

Zineb Marzouki, national UN Volunteer Receptionist with UNHCR Morocco. ©UNHCR, 2022
Zineb Marzouki, national UN Volunteer Receptionist with UNHCR Morocco. ©UNHCR, 2022

Thanks to this assignment, I was able to develop my knowledge of both national procedures and international standards related to asylum requests. This experience also impacted me on the personal level. It allowed me to enhance my listening skills and to become more aware of the reality of refugees and forcibly displaced people. --Zineb Marzouki, national UN Volunteer Receptionist with UNHCR in Morocco

Throughout her assignment, Zineb transcribed over 26,600 communications with people of concern for UNHCR and secured over 6,000 first contact communications. The support she provided to the registration team has also translated in the registration of asylum seekers, both remotely and face-to-face. 

However, Zineb’s role is not limited to the reception desk. She’s also a field champion. Zineb conducts field missions in the major cities of Morocco, including Oujda, Tangier and Casablanca, to register people of concern and to update their information. This exposure to the different conditions and situations of refugees and asylum seekers in their host communities broadened her vision and her trust in the importance of UNCHR’s mandate.

I am very lucky to have Zineb in my team. She is dedicated and passionate, and handles the demands of persons of concern with professionalism and compassion. --Karim Jouhari, UNHCR Assistant Legal Officer, Morocco

Zineb and Mahamat are examples of many UN Volunteers who team up with UNHCR to safeguard the rights and well-being of people of concern. As such, they help ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek safety.