There are still 200 Moroccans in Ceuta and 300 in Melilla waiting for the second phase of repatriation.
Rabat – Morocco started the first repatriation operation for Moroccans stranded in the enclave city of Ceuta on Friday at 10 a.m., reported Spanish local media outlet El Faro de Ceuta.
The outlet said 300 Moroccans left the Spanish city in buses, but there were still 200 more stuck in Ceuta. The border of the enclave city with Morocco has been closed since March 13. The border opened today for the gradual repatriation of Moroccan citizens.
Authorities adopted a selection process for the repatriation, starting with the most vulnerable cases, including people with disabilities, elderly people, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses.
The first returnees will stay in quarantine for 14 days in a hotel in the northern Moroccan city of M’diq, reported Spanish channel RTVE.
Many who were not shortlisted for the process have staged a protest at the border, expressing their frustration and impatience to come home.
Spanish police heavily mobilized on-site as seen in photos, ensuring order.
Friday’s operation comes after Moroccan authorities repatriated 200 citizens stuck in Melilla on May 15. The Melilla repatriation followed shortly after the death of a homeless Moroccan woman in the city. There are still 300 Moroccans in Melilla waiting for authorities to transport them home.
The date and time of a second repatriation from Melilla are yet to be announced.
While Morocco has largely succeeded in controlling the COVID-19 outbreak, its failure to address the 30,000 Moroccans stranded abroad has prompted sharp criticism.
Many of the Moroccans stuck in host countries sent numerous distress calls informing Moroccan officials of their psychological, physical, and financial struggles and felt their country gave up on them.
Moroccan authorities, in turn, promised to give them relief from their struggle soon after receiving approval from the Ministry of Health that the COVID-19 situation is under control.