Far from their loved ones, bitter, more than 30,000 Moroccans have been stranded around the world since the country closed its borders in mid-March in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Rabat ensures to prepare their repatriation, without however advancing a date. Manal was to return home after a tourist trip to Indonesia. After a stopover in Istanbul, his flight to Casablanca was “canceled by the airline” due to the suspension without notice of all routes, told AFP this 33-year-old engineer.
We are very disappointed
“I feel anger and a feeling of abandonment because I am entering my third month without knowing when I could return”, she lets go. In the meantime, she “rent a room in shared apartment, without any support by the Moroccan consulate in Istanbul“Ilias (pseudonym) had taken a ferry to the south of Spain with his partner, for a weekend not far from the Moroccan coast. He too found himself stuck.”We are very disappointed with political amateurism and contradictory statements“says the 34-year-old executive, who concedes”have the chance to be part of the Moroccans supported by the consulates“Like them, 31,800 Moroccans, on a business trip, a tourist stay or a family visit, live this forced exile, with large contingents in Spain, France and Turkey.
Faced with the pandemic, the kingdom has closed its borders, suspended all flights and declared a health emergency, with strict confinement reinforced by a night curfew. Thousands of tourists stranded in Morocco have been able to return to their country with empty special flights to go, much to the dismay of Moroccans who would have liked to board to return home. To be heard, stranded people have multiplied calls for help, with sit-ins and social media campaigns. Some have addressed an open letter to King Mohammed VI: “We are running out of financial resources today and our mental health is deteriorating“, say the signatories.
The consulates have since established “support cells“and paid for the accommodation costs of 6,500 Moroccans, according to the government. The others are left to fend for themselves.
Morocco abandoned us
The office of the Moroccan Association for Human Rights (AMDH) in Paris recently alerted the “situation of great vulnerability” “elderly people, suffering from serious illnesses or parents accompanied by young children “.
“I understand the fact that the whole world is experiencing an unprecedented crisis which requires unprecedented measures but the lack of communication from the State about us is unacceptable. We have no visibility and we are plagued by uncertainty”, says journalist Aida Alami, contributor to the New York Times, who left for France in mid-March for a few days.
“I think we will be blocked until the opening of international airspace”, she believes.
So far, only 500 Moroccans stranded in the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla have been allowed to cross the border on foot after more than two months of waiting. The first left Melilla, after a Moroccan stranded in the enclave was found dead in the street due to a stroke. Those who return are quarantined for 14 days and tested, according to Moroccan media. Given the limited capacity of public health, the priority of Rabat has been to limit the risk of contagion linked to the return of possible carriers of the virus, according to a Moroccan diplomatic source.
“The return must be in the best conditions, without risk for the country and for these people“declared the head of diplomacy Nasser Bourita in April, evoking a “repatriation plan under development”. This week, Prime Minister Saad-Eddine El Othmani assured that the “repatriation” scenarios were “ready”, hoping that “the good news would be announced soon”.
“Morocco has abandoned us (…) All the countries have repatriated their nationals and the only answer we are given is that scenarios are being studied”, accuses Yassine. This 30 year old frame “carry around with his three day suitcase “ in Paris for more than nine weeks.