Morocco has repatriated 1,030 of its citizens that were stranded in Turkey due to COVID-19-induced border closures.
Rabat – A total of 302 Moroccan citizens, including babies, children, and the elderly, arrived Saturday evening at Saniat R’mel airport in Tetouan on board two planes from Istanbul, as part of the repatriation of Moroccans stranded abroad.
The two planes holding the fourth group of Moroccans repatriated from Turkey landed on June 20 with 152 and 150 citizens on board, respectively. The repatriation operations will continue in the coming days, according to Morocco’s state media.
After arriving, the nationals boarded buses bound for hotels in the Tamuda Bay area, where they underwent testing for COVID-19.
As part of the repatriation operations, Saniat R’mel airport in Tetouan has received several flights carrying more than 1,000 Moroccans who were stranded in Spain and Turkey, said the airport manager, Hassan Limouni.
Limouni told the press that all the necessary measures have been taken to ensure the operations are conducted in full compliance with precautionary measures and health protocol, with the participation of all stakeholders.
The Oujda-Angad airport welcomed 312 repatriated citizens from Turkey on June 19 on three flights operated by flag carrier Royal Air Maroc (RAM). Two more groups arrived on June 16 on direct flights from Istanbul to Tetouan, returning a respective 313 and 103 passengers.
Morocco was slow to commence repatriation operations and only began returning home its nationals in May, stirring criticism from national and international actors. More than 33,000 Moroccans were stranded abroad for more than three months after Morocco closed its borders on May 15 to keep the COVID-19 pandemic from spreading.
Speaking before the House of Councillors, Bourita explained that Morocco will begin repatriations by bringing back Moroccans stranded in Spain, followed by Turkey, the Gulf countries, France, and African states.
Morocco is set to repatriate the first group of citizens from the UAE Monday, June 22.