Stranded Moroccans Call for Repatriation

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Rabat – Thousands of miles away from their families for nearly two months, Moroccans stranded abroad due to COVID-19-induced border closures have turned to social media to ask for help from the Moroccan government.

The stranded Moroccans launched #bring_us_home to urge the government to offer a solution for their repatriation.

The call for help included a video on YouTube expressing their frustration and sharing their struggles.

A number of the campaigners decried the lack of measures for their repatriation, saying the government forgot about them amid difficult times.

The North African country closed its borders in mid-March to contain the virus. The pandemic has killed 182 people to date, while Morocco confirmed 5,382 cases of COVID-19 on May 6.

Despite the mobilization of consulates and embassies to ensure accommodation and food supplies, the stranded Moroccans maintain that repatriation is the only solution to their plight.

“Morocco forgot about us, but we did not. Bring us home, please,” said some of the stranded tourists.

A Moroccan woman stranded in France said that the marooned tourists are physically and mentally exhausted due to the situation.

“We cannot stand this anymore. We ask for our immediate repatriation. They can put us in quarantine. We are ready for all measures, just get us back home,” said the woman.

The video shows Moroccan tourists and students stranded in different countries, including Belgium, the US, France, Tu nisia, Mali, Turkey, the UK, Spain, Ukraine, Algeria, and Senegal, to name a few.

An elderly man stranded  in Belgium addressed a heartwarming message to the government to ask Moroccan authorities to find a solution for him.

“I am tired, tired. I am sick. I want to go back to my children. I missed my children,” the man said.

Two Moroccans in Mali and Tunisia said that despite the efforts put in place by Morocco’s diplomatic representations abroad, the actions are not enough to make them feel safe.

“The embassy [in Mali] offered us accommodation, but is not offering everything we need. We are subjected to COVID-19 threat. We ask the state to find a solution to get us back home. We have been stuck here for more than four months,” said a Moroccan man in Bamako, Mali.

A Moroccan man in Turkey said that he and his compatriots have been blocked in Turkey for more than 45 days.

“We cannot stand this anymore. Get us back home for God’s sake,” said the man.

Another Moroccan citizen stranded in France asked the government to announce the specific date when stranded tourists can expect their repatriation.

“We are ready for tests before we get aboard a flight. We are ready to pay for our repatriation flight. We are ready for confinement, just tell us when we are going back. Morocco forgot about us, but we did not. There are people who are ill. Please get us back” she said with emotion.

Born in France to Moroccan parents, Said Taghmaoui also participated in the campaign to express frustration of lack of repatriation process.

“The government should shoulder its responsibility to repatriate their compatriots. It is time for that,” Taghmaoui said.

A Moroccan student stranded in Ukraine asked the government for mercy in tears. “Please feel for us. This is a tough situation, please help us get back home,” said the student.

Similar campaigns went viral on social media recently, with Moroccans stranded abroad using social networks to convey their struggles to ask the government for their repatriation.

Morocco’s government estimated the number of tourists stranded abroad at 22,000.

Late last month, Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita said the country is working on plans to repatriate all Moroccans stranded abroad. Bourita announced that the repatriation process requires rigorous preparation to preserve public health.

The government has helped several countries, including the US, Belgium, and the Netherlands to repatriate their citizens.

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