The number of Moroccans stranded abroad currently stands at 27,821, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Rabat – The Moroccan Ambassador to the Netherlands and Director of Consular and Social Affairs, Mohamed Basri, said yesterday that various ministerial departments are combining their efforts to repatriate Moroccans who are stranded abroad.
The number of Moroccans stranded abroad currently stands at 27,821, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Basri declared in an interview with 2M that the right to repatriation is “established, indisputable, and natural,” and that the ministry is neither insensitive to the demands of stranded Moroccans, nor to their situation.
The challenge of successfully executing repatriation efforts is associated with public health security, explained the ambassador.
Basri indicated that May 20, which is set to mark the end of Morocco’s state of emergency lockdown extension, is an important date that will provide a clear vision on Morocco’s decisions.
Commenting on the end of the state of emergency, Basri said that “we have to wait. A few days separate us from this date, we must remain optimistic and reassured.”
Speaking about the ministry’s mechanism, the consular affairs director indicated that the alert and monitoring systems put in place at the ministry, consulates, and embassies allow an assessment of complaints, reports, and claims from citizens stranded abroad.
The systems also allow for effective responses and ongoing communications, added the official.
In addition to their continuous communications with Moroccans stranded abroad, embassies and consulates are currently supporting more than 5,700 people, including stranded citizens and Moroccans residing abroad (MREs).
Morocco’s repatriation actions
Morocco has facilitated the return of thousands of foreigners stuck within its borders in the almost two months since it suspended all flights in and out of the country, shut down maritime links with Europe, and closed its land borders.
The successful operations contrast with the country’s failure thus far to repatriate Moroccans back home.
Government Spokesperson and Education Minister Said Amzazi stressed “the importance of ensuring the necessary conditions for their return” during a press briefing after a virtual meeting of the government council yesterday, May 7.
In line with Basri’s declaration on repatriation, Amzazi said that the return of stranded Moroccans must take into account the epidemiological situation in the country, and its evolution, “so that this return does not constitute a risk either for these people or for their country.”
Head of Government Saad Eddine El Othmani said that “there will be a solution” for Moroccans stranded abroad once the country opens its borders.
El Othmani’s declaration aligned with Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita’s announcement on April 23.
Bourita had said that “repatriation should take place in the best conditions, without causing risk to the country or to the repatriated citizens.”
The repatriation operation requires rigorous planning, based on meticulous criteria, and in coordination with several government departments, he added.
For those whose visas have expired, Moroccan diplomatic missions have negotiated exceptional juridic measures. Morocco has also increased the allowance for Moroccans stranded abroad to MAD 20,000 ($2,000).
The situation of stranded Moroccans
Although Moroccan embassies are managing resources to assess the circumstances of and support stranded Moroccans, as well as MREs, the government is facing harsh criticism for its delay in facilitating the return of stranded Moroccans. Many have taken to social media to stress that repatriation is the only solution to their plight.
With the #bring_us_home campaign, Moroccans are pleading for the government to expedite the repatriation process: “Morocco forgot about us, but we did not. Bring us home, please.”
The call for help included a video on YouTube where Moroccans stranded abroad expressed their frustration and shared their struggles.
A Moroccan woman stranded in France said that the marooned tourists are physically and mentally exhausted.“We cannot stand this anymore. We ask for our immediate repatriation. They can put us in quarantine. We are ready for all measures, just get us back home,” said the woman.
An elderly man stranded in Belgium addressed a heartwarming message to Moroccan authorities, asking them to find a solution. “I am tired, tired. I am sick. I want to go back to my children. I missed my children,” the man said.
A Moroccan man stuck in Saudi Arabia released a video decrying the difficult conditions of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“You know how life is expensive here. If you don’t have money to buy water, you will die of thirst because the drinking water here is not good. You should buy bottled water to drink,” he said.
In addition to everyday expenses, he continued, there are costs for rent and electricity bills. “How can we cover this since we have been suspended from work for nearly two months now?” the desperate man asked authorities.
In a televised address last night, El Othmani reassured Moroccans that the situation of those stranded abroad is a government priority.