Morocco’s suspension of international flights on March 15 left thousands of tourists stranded in the country.
The stranded Dutchmen wrote an open letter in Dutch, French, and Arabic denouncing the response of their government to the COVID-19 crisis.
“We expected more from the Netherlands, much more,” the letter reads.
“We understand that this is a crisis and it can cause incredibly complicated diplomatic issues. We understand that Morocco closed its borders and took far-reaching measures to protect its citizens. But you are abandoning us.”
According to the letter, pregnant women who do not have access to the right medication are among the stranded Dutch, as well as people with ill relatives at home in the Netherlands.
To control the spread of COVID-19, Morocco suspended all international flights on March 15, leaving thousands of tourists stranded in the country.
The following day, the Moroccan government allowed several repatriation flights. Between March 16 and March 22, over a dozen flights took stranded tourists to several European destinations, including Paris, London, and Amsterdam. However, as the letter claims, the flights were not enough for everyone to go home.
The authors of the letter ask the Dutch government to send “at least two planes” to Morocco, and to let them know three days in advance so they can arrange their transportation to the airports.
The letter also implored Moroccan authorities to allow additional repatriation flights: “Morocco… We beg you to make an exception.”
In response to the letter, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasized that “everything is being done” to obtain permission from Moroccan authorities to send more flights.
“There is a lot happening behind the scenes. We want to bring back the Dutch people who are stranded,” Het Parool quoted the ministry.
The problem of Dutch nationals stranded in Morocco was a major point of discussion in recent sessions at the House of Representatives of the Netherlands.
MPs Sadet Karabulut and Lilianne Ploumen asked the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Stef Blok, about the measures taken to bring their compatriots home, as well as the reasons why they are “hardly noticeable.”
The parliamentarians also called for a compensation of all the extra costs incurred for the stranded Dutch nationals due the cancelled flights.