The Moroccan government encourages emigration because of the benefit to the balance of payments of remittances from Moroccans living and working abroad. Remittances came to6.6% of GDP in 2000, amounting to $2,161,000,000. In the first half of the 1990s, about 585,000 Moroccans lived in France, nearly 142,000 in Belgium, some 67,500 in Germany, almost 157,000 in the Netherlands, and 50,000 in Spain. There is some seasonal migration within Morocco as workers move into cities and towns after planting and harvesting are finished. Over 200,000 people migrate permanently to the cities each year; the urban share of the total population increased from 29% to 48% between 1960 and 1994.
The war in Western Sahara has been a cause of significant migration, both of settlers from Morocco proper and of refugees to Algeria, (165,000 of the latter at the end of 1992). In late 1997 and early 1998, UNHCR established a presence in the Western Sahara Territory. In 1999 talks were underway with local authorities to plan for the repatriation of Saharawi refugees, mostly settled in four refugee camps in Tindouf. Repatriation was tentatively scheduled to begin in 2000. In 2000, the net migration rate was -1.5 migrants per 1,000 population. The number of migrants in Morocco in that year was 26,000. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.