The workers underwent PCR and serological tests onboard the ferry to Tangier.
Rabat – The first group of seasonal Moroccan workers who were stranded in Spain due to Morocco’s border closures arrived at Tangier Med from the port of Huelva on Sunday.
Repatriation operations for the seasonal workers — estimated at between 7,100 and 7,200 — launched on Saturday, July 18. The Embassy of Morocco in Spain said in a press release that six boats are set to ferry home the workers, most of whom are women.
The Moroccan Ambassador in Madrid, Karima Benyaich, went to Huelva to oversee the first stage of the operation on Saturday. In a press release, the embassy noted that the operation is taking place in coordination with the Moroccan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The embassy’s statement emphasized the close collaboration between the Moroccan diplomatic representation and the Spanish authorities. Thanks to this partnership, it continued, all the necessary logistical and human resources have been put in place to ensure the success of this operation while respecting the health precautionary measures in force.
The seasonal Moroccan workers underwent PCR and serological tests onboard the ferry to Tangier. The Spanish authorities provided the tests and will do so for the other groups of repatriates, according to the embassy’s statement.
Benyaich took the opportunity Saturday to underline King Mohammed VI’s respect for the rights of Moroccan women and Moroccan women living abroad.
During her visit to the port of Huelva, Ambassador Benyaich and the Consul General of Morocco in Seville, Charif Cherkaoui, paid tribute to the commitment and sacrifice of seasonal women workers. The diplomats celebrated them as a “symbol of the courage of Moroccan women, particularly amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Benyaich also expressed her appreciation for the Spanish authorities’ efforts to ensure the success of the repatriation operation.
The first stage of the Huelva repatriation operation comes after Moroccan and Spanish NGOs decried the delay in repatriating the seasonal workers.
On July 9, a group of 15 Moroccan women who work on red fruits farms staged a protest in Cartaya, a rural town in Huelva. With Spanish ports set to remain closed despite the exceptional reopening of borders on July 15, the women appealed directly to King Mohammed VI to facilitate their return to Morocco.
“The work is over and we’re having a hard time. We already sent all the money to Morocco. Our kids are alone. No one is taking care of them. They miss us. We ask the King to open the port. We are here without work, without money, and without food. We ask the King to send us home,” said Fatima, one of the protestors.
“Please help us, we are abandoned here. I have four children who are with my mother-in-law, who is doing me the favor,” another protestor said. “The work is done. We are no longer doing anything, we can only be at home, please help us, we have been like this for a month.”
Moroccan and Spanish authorities agreed on a repatriation strategy on July 15.