Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced June 12 and June 15 as dates for two more repatriation operations for Moroccans stranded in Spain.
Rabat – Moroccan authorities repatriated 310 Moroccans stranded in Spain, including 10 babies, aboard three flights on Wednesday, June 10.
The operation targeted Moroccans in Andalusia, southern Spain, and covered the consular districts of Algeciras, Seville, and Almeria.
The Moroccan consulates in the three cities made a list of citizens for the first repatriation based on criteria of precariousness, including age, financial situation, and medical condition.
The flights departed from the city of Malaga and landed in Tetouan, northern Morocco.
Moroccan health authorities performed screening tests for COVID-19 on the repatriated citizens as soon as they arrived, before transferring them to hotels and tourist establishments in the nearby beach town of M’diq.
The repatriated nationals are set to undergo a nine-day quarantine period with daily medical monitoring before they can return to their homes.
Both the planes and the buses that carried the repatriated Moroccans operated at two-thirds of their capacity, said a statement from Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The repatriated citizens also received disinfectant gels and face masks to ensure their compliance with safety measures.
On Friday, June 12, a similar operation is set to take place, benefiting 300 Moroccans stranded in central Spain, with flights departing from Madrid, the ministry announced.
Morocco will also repatriate 300 Moroccans stuck in Catalonia on Monday, June 15, on board three flights departing from Barcelona, the statement added.
The two upcoming operations will follow the same health protocols, including screening tests, a quarantine period, and a medical follow-up.
Gradual, selective repatriation
The repatriation of Moroccans stranded in Spain began only one day after Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita announced Morocco’s strategy to repatriate its citizens stranded abroad.
Speaking before the House of Councillors, Bourita said that the repatriation will start with Moroccans stranded in the region of Algeciras, then Madrid, Catalonia, and the Basque region.
After bringing home Moroccans stranded in Spain, Morocco will repatriate its citizens stranded in Turkey, the Gulf countries, France, and other African states.
The operations will prioritize Moroccans who went abroad on short tourist visas, as well as those who are in a precarious financial situation, or suffer from critical health conditions.
The repatriation will not include Moroccans who left the country to seek permanent residency or employment abroad, Bourita said.
Unlike other countries, Morocco will bear all the costs related to repatriation, he added.
Three months away from home
The struggle of Moroccans stranded abroad began in mid-March after Morocco decided to close its international borders to curb the spread of COVID-19. The move left hundreds of thousands of foreign tourists stranded in Morocco and thousands of Moroccans stuck abroad.
While the Moroccan government quickly began facilitating the repatriation of tourists stranded in Morocco, it only launched the first operation to repatriate Moroccan citizens in mid-May.
While the number of Moroccans stranded abroad is unclear, Moroccan embassies and consulates across the world received wishes of repatriation from at least 32,000 Moroccans.
While the previous repatriation operations extended over more than one week, it seems that the new operations to repatriate Moroccans stranded in Spain will occur at a quicker pace. However, it remains to be seen whether this will be the case for all future operations.