In response to recent criticism, the foreign minister stressed that in selecting those eligible for repatriation, Belgium is not making a distinction between its nationals and binationals.
Rabat – Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs Philippe Goffin renewed his country’s thanks to Morocco for its “excellent level of coordination” and “positive dialogue” to organize repatriation flights for Belgian nationals stranded in Morocco due to the COVID-19 crisis.
The official explained that he is delighted at the quality of relations with Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nasser Bourita, and the Moroccan ambassador in Brussels.
He said that despite the suspension of air and maritime travel, Morocco’s collaboration will enable Belgium to organize the return of Belgian nationals whether they are “solely Belgian or have two nationalities,” Goffin said.
“First of all, I want to emphasize the excellent quality of relations between Belgium and Morocco. This is an element that I want to highlight first. Second element is that this crisis is marked by many events and we are confronted in our respective countries with the difficulty of managing the coronavirus. It is an international crisis,” Goffin told Maghreb Arab Press (MAP).
Goffin said that his country managed to organize 25 repatriation flights since Morocco announced the suspension of air routes.
The Belgian official explained that selecting those who qualify for the new repatriation process will take into account “humanitarian and social reasons.”
“We will be able, with the help of the Moroccan authorities, to repatriate people according to very specific criteria (illness requiring care in Belgium, risk of job loss, bankruptcy of a company, etc.),” he said.
The Belgian Embassy in Rabat is currently reviewing its list of requests to select those eligible to benefit from the process.
The requests will be transmitted to the Moroccan authorities in the middle of this week, Goffin explained.
MAP said that the return of binationals to Belgium resulted in a debate in Morocco’s parliament and in the country’s media.
The Belgian authorities had been criticized for making “a distinction” between binationals and Belgian nationals.
The official reiterated his recent answers about the situation, emphasizing that his country’s authorities did not make any distinction between binationals and nationals.
“There is obviously no ambiguity,” he emphasized.
The new statements echo previous remarks from the Belgian foreign minister, who thanked Morocco’s authorities for their collaboration last week.
Just as many foreigners are stranded in Morocco, thousands of Moroccan tourists are stranded across the globe.
Minister Delegate in Charge of Moroccans Residing Abroad (MREs) Nezha El Ouafi said that there are 18,000 stranded Moroccan tourists around the world.
Concerns about the predicament of stranded Moroccans mounted recently, as the holy month of Ramadan is around the corner.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs pledged to keep assisting nationals through its consulates and embassies, pending their repatriation.