The Moroccan embassy said Zabdi resided abroad and was not one of the Moroccans stranded due to COVID-19 border closures.
Rabat – Following the death of a Moroccan man named Youness Zabdi in the Philippines on June 3, the Moroccan Embassy in Manila sent exclusive information to Morocco World News regarding the man’s circumstances.
The Moroccan embassy confirmed that Zabdi was a member of the Moroccan diaspora and not one of the thousands of Moroccans stranded abroad due to COVID-19 border closures.
Zabdi had been traveling between the United Arab Emirates, where he works, and the Philippines, where his family lives, since 2018.
Zabdi shared his struggle through the channel of a Moroccan YouTuber, MC Talib. On May 27, the channel uploaded a video of Zabdi talking about his poverty and lamenting that he did not have enough money to buy milk for his daughter or his essential asthma medication.
The Moroccan man also revealed in the video that he failed to pay his rent for three months in a row. Zabdi’s widow, Rina, confirmed to MWN on June 4, after Zabdi’s death, that the family was “kicked out of the rental house.”
“Even though he was not one of the Moroccans stranded abroad, he benefited from the aid reserved for this group of Moroccans,” explained the Moroccan Embassy in Manila.
The embassy granted Zabdi 10,000 pesos ($200) in financial aid on May 19 in order to “meet his urgent needs,” namely his children and his medical condition. The embassy provided MWN with a copy of the financial record.
Rina also confirmed they received the aid but said it was not enough to cover the family’s living needs or rent. However, contrary to what the couple said about renting a house, the Moroccan embassy declared that Zabdi and his family resided with his Filipino in-laws.
The Moroccan citizen died on Wednesday night due to an asthma attack. Like other Moroccans who died abroad, the Moroccan embassy will handle Zabdi’s burial “at the request of his widow.”
The slow return of Moroccans stranded abroad
Since Morocco decided to close its borders on March 15, many Moroccans found themselves under the pressure of financial difficulties and facing social and economic uncertainty linked to the evolution of the virus.
As international flights to and from the country remain suspended, Moroccan embassies continue to mobilize their efforts to ensure accommodation and food supplies for nationals while the Moroccan government mulls steps to prepare for repatriation operations.
The first repatriation operation took place for the benefit of Moroccans stranded in the Spanish enclave of Melilla on May 15. The Moroccan government organized the return of 500 citizens in two separate phases.
Later the same month, the government moved to return Moroccans stuck in the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. The first phase on May 22 shuttled 300 Moroccans across the border, while a second operation on May 25 repatriated 37 more nationals.
On May 30, 300 Moroccans who were stranded in the Algerian capital of Algiers returned home. The second operation in Algeria took place on June 4 and repatriated 300 more Moroccan nationals on three separate planes.
According to the latest update from Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, more than 31,000 Moroccans are stranded abroad and have declared their wish to come back home.