The number of Moroccans residing abroad (MREs) is estimated at five million.
Rabat – The Secretary-General of the Council of the Moroccan Community Abroad (CCME) Abdellah Boussouf unveiled unofficial data detailing deaths among Moroccans residing abroad (MREs) due to COVID-19.
Boussouf said 400 MREs have succumbed to the virus. The figure does not include the patients admitted to intensive healthcare, Moroccan newspaper Al Massae quoted Boussouf as saying.
The secretary-general said the situation remains complicated due to the impossibility of repatriating the remains of the members of the Moroccan diaspora regardless of their cause of death.
The Moroccan diaspora is estimated to be five million strong. In addition to Moroccans residing abroad, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said 22,000 Moroccan tourists have been stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The stranded Moroccans have been calling on the government to speed up the process of repatriation due to the challenges they face abroad.
The foreign affairs ministry vowed to repatriate the citizens after determining a rigorous plan guaranteed to preserve the tourists’ safety and secure public health in Morocco.
The vows come as Morocco continues to help several countries repatriate thousands of stranded nationals back home.
Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said Morocco assisted in facilitating the return of 80,000 foreign tourists through hundreds of flights. The repatriation of foreign tourists from Morocco mounted criticism against the country for its hesitation to make similar efforts in favor of stranded Moroccans.
Moroccans stuck abroad recently launched a campaign, #bring_us_home, stating that their home country forgot about them.
In response, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs continues to emphasize that its embassies and representations abroad are mobilizing all resources to assist compatriots stranded abroad.
The ministry also instructed the country’s representations to cover the expenses of funerals for low-income families abroad.
The Minister Delegate for Moroccans Residing Abroad, Nezha El Ouafi, said in mid-April that the country will assist all MREs to repatriate the remains of deceased relatives after the COVID-19 crisis passes.
El Ouafi said Morocco’s government is aware of how important it is for families to repatriate the remains of their relatives and have them buried in their motherland due to strong cultural attachment.
Some members of the diaspora, however, said it is too late for such a process.
Souad Abdellaoui and Bouchra Bayouni, members of the Moroccan community in the Netherlands, shared their experience with Morocco World News.
Bayouni and Abdellaoui lost their fathers, who wished to be buried in Morocco, in the Netherlands in March. Both women regretted that it may be too late now to consider repatriating their fathers’ remains, but hope authorities can help other families who hope to repatriate the remains of their relatives.