A total number of 18,226 Moroccans are stranded abroad against the current closure of borders as part of preventive measures taken to fight against the spread of the new Coronavirus, said the Minister Delegate in charge of Moroccans living abroad, Nezha El Ouafi.
Speaking before the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defense, Islamic Affairs and Moroccans living abroad in the House of Representatives, El Ouafi stressed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans living abroad ensures through its diplomatic missions and consulates to accompany the Moroccans concerned and to cover the costs of accommodation and care for some of them.
In addition, measures have been taken with the authorities of the countries in question to extend the period of validity of the stay, to keep the hotels that accommodate them open, or to book hotels specifically to accommodate them. According to the Minister Delegate, 2,743 Moroccan nationals have been taken care of out of a total of 18,226 stranded abroad.
She recalled, in this context, the initiative of King Mohammed VI, which has enabled the repatriation of 167 Moroccan students from the Chinese city of Wuhan, stressing that they have benefited from health, social and psychological support during the period of their confinement in Rabat and Meknes (21 days).
After the spread of the epidemic throughout a number of European countries, the Moroccan authorities adopted, on the instructions of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, a series of operational measures, including the temporary closure of all air, sea and land links, in coordination with the authorities of the countries concerned, she added.
The primary objective was to anticipate the spread of the virus in Morocco and to protect the health and lives of citizens, El Ouafi explained, noting that the Kingdom has made efforts to monitor the disease and mitigate its impact on the national economy.
Since the first cases of infection, she said, a crisis unit has been set up at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans living abroad to assist Moroccans abroad after several countries around the world closed their borders.
In addition, crisis cells have been set up in all diplomatic missions and consulates of the Kingdom abroad, in addition to hotlines dedicated to Moroccans living abroad.
The Government official also highlighted the strong mobilization of all diplomatic missions and consulates in host countries, as well as the cells created at the central and regional levels to monitor the situation of Moroccans around the world and Moroccans currently abroad, praising the considerable and continuous efforts made in these special circumstances.
Referring to the inability at the present time to repatriate the bodies of Moroccans who had died abroad for burial in their homeland in view of the various measures taken by various countries to deal with the pandemic of the new Coronavirus, El Ouafi stressed the decision to cover the burial costs of Moroccans who were in need and did not have funeral insurance.
The Minister pointed out that this procedure is part of the mechanism for covering the costs of repatriation of bodies, with the aim of providing all the necessary support and assistance to Moroccans residing abroad and their families, especially in these special circumstances.