Nationals scattered across the globe are calling on the Moroccan government to implement repatriation measures so they can spend the holy month of Ramadan with their loved ones.
El Ouafi remarked on the situation before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense, Islamic Affairs and Moroccan Expatriates at the House of Representatives.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, she said, deployed its missions and embassies across the world to accompany the Moroccans concerned, bear the costs of accommodation, and provide additional care for those in need.
The delegate minister emphasized that Moroccan officials collaborated with authorities in each foreign country where Moroccans are stranded, taking numerous measures to extend their visas.
The ministry also asked authorities of the foreign “countries in question to keep the hotels that accommodate them open, or to book hotels specifically to house them.
The minister explained that 2,743 of the stranded Moroccan nationals were taken care of.
The official explained that the measures are in line with King Mohammed VI’s initiatives to support Moroccans during the coronavirus crisis, recalling the country’s actions to contain the spread of the virus, including the suspension of air and maritime travel since March 15.
The primary objective was to “anticipate the spread of the virus in Morocco and to protect the health and lives of citizens,” El Ouafi said.
She explained that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs set up a crisis unit in favor of Moroccan expatriates and stranded nationals shortly following the closure of borders.
Moroccan embassies and missions mobilized similar units to help families and stranded Moroccans in need amid the crisis.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asked embassies to take care of the funeral costs of Moroccan COVID-19 victims abroad for families in need.
Moroccan embassies and missions mobilized similar units to assist families and stranded Moroccans through accommodation services and partial or total aid, including covering the funeral costs of low-income Moroccan victims of COVID-19 abroad.
According to figures released by Morocco’s ambassador to Italy Youssef Bella, 23 Moroccans died from COVID-19 and have been buried according to Islamic rituals.
In a statement to Maghreb Arab Press (MAP), the Bella said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs covered the burial fees for the late Moroccans, adding that there are 113 Moroccan nationals stranded in Italy.
Meanwhile, the Moroccan ambassador to Spain, Karima Benyaich, announced on April 10 that she has coordinated with the Moroccan consulates in Spain to provide appropriate support to 1,700 stranded Moroccans.
The country’s consulates in Spain have also set up a permanent listening cell via landlines, a WhatsApp assistance number, and an email address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the holy month of Ramadan approaches, thousands of stranded Moroccans continue to express concerns about their situation. The scattered Moroccan citizens hope to return home before Ramadan, which will begin in Morocco on April 25, to spend the month with their loved ones.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not yet expressed intention to repatriate the stranded nationals.
In addition to suspending air and maritime travel, Morocco also imposed a lockdown on March 20 as part of the country’s state of emergency. The lockdown is slated to end on April 20, but it remains to be seen whether the country will extend the state of emergency as other countries such as Saudi Arabia and France have done.