Dutch tourists stranded in Morocco have been accusing their government of “abandoning them.”
Rabat – In an attempt to calm angry Dutch tourists stranded in Morocco due to flight cancellations, Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok called on Morocco to at least allow his “distressed” compatriots to go home.
“It’s a very reasonable request to let people go,” Blok said, according to Dutch media outlet HLN.
HLN estimates as many as 3,000 Dutch tourists are stranded in Morocco.
Morocco has been under lockdown since March 20 after suspending all international flights on March 15. Moroccan airspace is closed until further notice.
In addition to Blok, Dutch MP Sjoerd Sjoerdsma argued that it is “unacceptable” for Morocco to keep flights suspended.
The measure, however, is part of the government’s actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the new statement, the Dutch government is blaming Morocco for not allowing its compatriots to leave. The Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been trying to calm its tourists, arguing “everything is being done” to obtain permission from Moroccan authorities to send flights.
While Dutch officials have criticized Morocco, Dutch nationals have been accusing their government of “abandoning” them.
Amsterdam-based newspaper Het Parool published an open letter from Dutch tourists stranded in Morocco.
“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.”
The Moroccan government has been allowing stranded tourists to leave in certain cases after the suspension of international flights.
Various governments organized special repatriation flights for tourists to go back to their countries between March 16 and March 22, including multiple flights to the Netherlands. The government allowed one last repatriation flight for stranded Americans, which left Friday afternoon. The US and the UK were able to repatriate their citizens with the help of Moroccan authorities.
Morocco World News contacted the Dutch Embassy, but no one was available to answer.
The Transavia airline received authorization from Morocco just after the suspension of international flights to carry out repatriation flights for Dutch tourists, the Netherlands Times reported.
However, the airline had to cancel three flights from Nador and Marrakech, because the landing rights were revoked as Morocco entered a state of emergency, according to an airline spokesperson.
The Dutch AD news outlet emphasized that it is difficult to know how many people are still waiting for repatriation.