Since beginning repatriation operations, Morocco has brought home nationals from Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Senegal, Spain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey, and the UAE.
The flights arrived on June 23 at Al Massira Airport in Agadir and primarily benefited people suffering from chronic diseases, tourists in precarious situations, and children and infants. Each plane carried between 150 and 290 people.
The airport assured that it facilitated customs procedures and established a fluid registration of the repatriates while respecting the social distancing and sanitary measures that the Moroccan National Office of Airports (ONDA) issued before the repatriation operations commenced.
Upon arrival, the repatriated Moroccans boarded buses bound for hotels in Agadir, where they were tested for COVID-19 and will be placed under quarantine in accordance with the Ministry of Health’s protocol.
Some 33,000 Moroccans were stranded abroad for more than three months after the country closed its borders on March 15 to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The Moroccan government authorized repatriation operations in May, beginning with the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, followed by Algeria, mainland Spain, the Canary Islands, and Turkey.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said on Monday that 30 flights between June 21 and 27 are repatriating 4,644 Moroccans stranded in 17 countries. The upcoming repatriation operations will benefit 5,000 to 6,000 Moroccans stranded abroad every week.
A campaign to repatriate Moroccans stranded in Germany, Egypt, Turkey, and Gulf countries will take place between June 28 and July 4.
Before implementing the repatriation strategy, the Moroccan government faced harsh criticism for the delay in bringing home its own stranded nationals while facilitating the return of thousands of tourists and foreign residents to their countries of origin.
Bourita said Morocco was not able to repatriate its citizens stranded abroad until it had the ability to guarantee their safety. “There is no bargaining with the lives of Moroccans. We had to make sure the repatriation process would not have any negative repercussions,” he explained.