Some Moroccans have recently staged protests in front of the Morocco’s consulate in Istanbul.
Rabat – Morocco’s Consulate General in Istanbul has issued a statement to clarify the circumstances surrounding protests led by Moroccans stranded in Turkey.
The consulate said it has provided assistance to some 2,800 Moroccans in vulnerable situations after Morocco closed its borders and entered its COVID-19-induced lockdown.
The consulate’s assistance included covering the cost of hotel stays, food, and other essentials for Moroccans whose expenses were limited due to the pandemic.
Morocco has organized 21 “humanitarian trips,” or repatriation operations, for Moroccans stranded in the country as of June 16. However, some of the stranded tourists expressed a desire to stay in Turkey for personal reasons, the consulate explained.
The diplomatic representation said it “was necessary to end accomodation and nutrition provision” for those who refused to go back to Morocco during the repatriation process.
Some Moroccans protested the decision, demanding accommodation. They also called on the consulate to cover the costs of repatriation, refusing to pay for their own travel home now that Morocco has opened its borders.
Some members of this group of protesters, the consulate said, are “individuals who do not carry documents.”
The representation emphasized the importance of verifying the group’s identity through fingerprinting procedures. “Some (…) refused to take part in the process,” the consulate added.
The group of protesters also included nationals who refused to go back to Morocco during the repatriation process.
The individuals have been in a shelter house since July 14, the consulate said. The diplomatic representation emphasized its willingness to grant authorization to depart Turkey for individuals willing to return to Morocco after their identities are confirmed.
Moroccans legally residing in Turkey who were not eligible for repatriation also protested outside of the consulate.
Morocco’s government continues to repatriate Moroccans stranded abroad, whose initial number was estimated at 33,000.
The country has repatriated thousands of Moroccans since May, including from Turkey. Recently, a flight from Istanbul landed in Morocco on July 1 carrying 304 stranded nationals. The country has carried out several other repatriation operations for the benefit of nationals in Turkey.
In March, the Moroccan embassy and consulate in Turkey announced the decision to establish a COVID-19 support unit to assist stranded tourists. Embassies of Morocco around the world are following the same decision at the request of Morocco’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.