The couple traveled to Spain for medical care and is now separated from its four children in Rabat.
Rabat – A Moroccan couple stranded in France sends out a distress call to Moroccan authorities. The couple are unable to return home due to Morocco’s decision to suspend all international flights, one of many measures undertaken to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Parents to four children aged five, seven, thirteen, and fifteen, the couple left Morocco for Malaga, Spain on Monday, March 9 for a medical check-up. On Thursday, March 19, a friend informed them of Morocco’s decision to suspend all air and maritime traffic.
Desperate over their situation, Farouk Zine and his wife flew to Paris Friday morning, March 20, and purchased tickets for a Saturday, March 21 flight to Rabat.
“In the afternoon, Air France contacts me to tell me that the flight from Paris-Rabat is canceled,” said Farouk Zine in an email to Morocco World News.
Afraid of exposure to contamination on a plane or train, the couple decided to hit the highway to return to Malaga.
When the couple arrived at the Franco-Spanish border, they received a phone call informing them that Switzerland and Belgium were also suspending flights to Morocco, the husband added.
Although Moroccan authorities at consulates in Spain and Belgium were responsive to the couple, their hands were tied.
“We contacted the consulate in Spain and also in France. The people on the phone were very nice but they could not help us.”
The couple, who is now staying with a family member in Lyon, is calling on the competent authorities to intervene and arrange special flights for Moroccan tourists stranded abroad, as other countries have done for their citizens who were stranded in Morocco.
Repatriation of European tourists
On March 15, Morocco announced the suspension of all international flights to and from its territory until further notice.
In the wake of the decision, many European countries reached out to the Moroccan authorities to arrange a unilateral agreement for the benefit of European tourists stranded in Morocco.
Morocco has organized special flights for the repatriation of thousands of European tourists without implementing similar efforts for Moroccan tourists stuck in Europe.