22,000 Moroccans Are Still Stranded Abroad

The minister of the Interior, Abdelouafi Laftit, was present this Thursday, April 30, 2020 at the House of Representatives for the endorsement by the latter of the decree-law on the provisions relating to the state of health emergency and the procedures of its declaration. He could not, of course, escape the questions of the elected representatives of the first chamber on certain topical issues being either directly or indirectly at his own discretion.

Among the flood of questions that were addressed to him for nearly an hour by these elected officials, a question relating to the fate of some 22,000 Moroccans stranded abroad since the closure of national borders on March 15, 2020. Mr. Laftit’s reply to the question did not fail to raise broad comments in the press. Thus, while these Moroccans have been calling for their repatriation for more than seven weeks now, following the example of what has been and is still being done by other countries, we have learned from the Minister that the nationals of the Kingdom who are currently unwillingly in the occupied presidencies of Sebta and Melilia could be the first to return home. According to the formula used by Mr. Laftit, this return would be planned “as soon as possible”. According to the minister, all that remains is that “the conditions are good”, although he did not want to say more.

Mr. Laftit was as unclear, if not more evasive than the Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Residing Abroad, Nasser Bourita, was when he himself passed through the House of Representatives on April 23, 2020, using almost the same wordings – the head of diplomacy had, for his part, said that “the operation must be carried out in the best conditions without risk to the beneficiaries themselves or to their country”.

However, the hope is beginning to take shape for the stranded Moroccans, because if the door is open for Sebta and Melilia, it means that the end of the ordeal could be near for everyone. Perhaps not, but… Because it also emerges from Mr. Bourita’s above-mentioned statement in the House of Representatives that no repatriation operation can be organized unless “the health facilities are ready”. This suggests that Morocco would consider quarantining anyone offered the opportunity to return.

However, the number of Moroccans stranded in Sebta and Melilia remains tiny and their confinement within the reach of the Moroccan authorities, unlike the rest of their compatriots who are similarly fortunate. In any case, as the Head of Government, Saad Eddine El Othmani, also asked them from the stand of the House of Representatives on April 13, 2020, that the concerned continue for the time being.

Meanwhile, 3,844 of them are, according to the latest figures communicated by Mr Bourita to the parliament, taken care of by the Moroccan State, and the government had also taken the decision to grant them, on April 16, 2020, 20,000 dirhams of additional tourist allowance as an exceptional measure. Nothing, however, that is really worthwhile to return to one’s country…

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