The group will make a stopover in Istanbul, Turkey, before heading to Morocco.
Rabat – A group of 31 Moroccans stranded in Ethiopia will fly back to Morocco today.
The July 23 flight comes after COVID-19 tests on all the stranded Moroccans came back negative.
The group of Moroccans remained in Ethiopia since Morocco closed its international borders in mid-March.
Despite the Moroccan government’s decision to allow Moroccans to enter their country, the group in Ethiopia were unable to travel home due to the unavailability of flights linking Morocco to the East African country.
The Moroccan Embassy in Addis Ababa arranged a flight to Istanbul for the Moroccan nationals. From there, an airplane operated by Royal Air Maroc will transport them back to Morocco.
Morocco’s Ambassador to Ethiopia and Djibouti, Nezha Alaoui M’hamdi, met with the group of Moroccans on Wednesday evening. The meeting aimed to ensure all the arrangements are in place for the group to travel home.
Moroccan embassy’s efforts
The Moroccan embassy has taken a series of measures to support Moroccans stranded in Ethiopia since Morocco closed its borders, the ambassador told the press.
“All the services of the embassy have been mobilized to accompany [Moroccans stranded in Ethiopia] during their stay,” said Alaoui M’hamdi.
The Moroccan diplomatic mission has covered accommodation expenses in a hotel for all 31 Moroccans, the ambassador announced.
The embassy also closely followed up the financial, social, and medical situation of Moroccans stuck in Ethiopia, she added.
“The embassy’s mobilization has continued until today, with the organization of the blood tests required before flights,” Alaoui M’hamdi continued.
Hicham Chahin, a Moroccan freelance journalist stranded in Addis Ababa, said the embassy provided the group with “all forms of support.” He expressed his thanks and gratitude to the embassy staff.
Fadila Aktaou, a Moroccan photographer, also commended the efforts made by Morocco’s Embassy in Ethiopia.
“For four months, the embassy did more than necessary by providing us with accommodation and food. I will never forget this humanitarian support and this sincere assistance,” Aktaou told the press.
Suspension of repatriation flights
The group of Moroccans stranded in Ethiopia were among more than 33,000 Moroccans who were left stranded abroad after the border closure.
Morocco began repatriating citizens in late May, after more than two and a half months from the border closure. The Moroccan government financed repatriation flights for Moroccans in more than 20 countries.
However, the repatriation operations stopped after Morocco reopened its international borders for Moroccan citizens and their families. The decision allows Moroccans stranded abroad to fly back to Morocco after undergoing COVID-19 tests.
While thousands of Moroccans are returning to their country every day, others in countries without air liaisons with Morocco, such as Ethiopia, continue to struggle.