Pregnant or stranded with young children, Moroccan parents share their double struggle

The coronavirus health crisis has left several parents stranded with their very young children and sometimes heavily pregnant women. Three of them shared with Yabiladi their double struggle.

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When these parents left Morocco in March, they were not expecting their stays to last for too long. But when the lockdown happened, as a response to the coronavirus health crisis, their fate and that of their children and future babies became dependent on a flight home.

Aziz and his wife Ahlam, a Moroccan couple stranded in France since March, are torn between their fear from the virus in a country that has been hit hard by infections and their fear for their unborn baby. The woman is eight-month pregnant and it is very late to think that the baby could be delivered in Morocco.

«My wife is heavily pregnant and she is forced to give birth in France», Aziz told Yabiladi. The husband explained that their five-day holiday has turned into a long and stressful stay for him and his pregnant wife.

Stranded while pregnant

«We traveled to France in March and we were supposed to return home on the 16th of the same month», he recalled. Two days before the scheduled trip, Morocco grounded flights to and from France, preventing several Moroccans and French tourists from returning home.

Housed by family members in southern France, the couple has spent the last two months thinking of the baby instead of repatriation. «Of course, we would love to return to our country as soon as possible but our priority is the baby and labor now», Aziz said.

But that is proving to be very difficult, according to the future father. «Pregnancy checkups tend to be very expensive and the process is quite different from that in Morocco», Aziz explained. Indeed, the couple had trouble convincing a doctor to follow the future mother’s case during her third trimester.

«Many of them refused to resume her follow-up prenatal care visits and asked us to redo all tests and analyses, which was very expensive also», Aziz complained. As Ahlam's due date is approaching, the father is trying to get support from the Moroccan consulate as he wouldn’t be able to afford labor fees. «It can go up to 3,500 euros and my insurance wouldn’t cover it», he argued.

In addition to difficulties related to labor and financial support, the couple are left to their own device and their own fear as the country is battling the coronavirus. «It is very worrisome to see that hospitals are crowded with Covid-19 cases and that just makes it even harder on us», the father-to-be concluded.

Caring for a child while stranded away from home

As Aziz and Ahlam are going through thick and thin to ensure the safety of their baby, Fatima Zahra is another mother who has to care for her 11-month old baby while stranded abroad. The Moroccan arrived in France on March 8 for health reasons and was forced to stay as her flight was cancelled twice.  

«I tried helplessly to return home after that, I even went to the Paris Orly airport to catch a flight in vain», she recalled. While staying at a friend’s house, the mother has found herself unable to follow up with the recommended vaccines for her baby.

«My son is 11 months now and on March 25 he was supposed to receive vaccines in Morocco», she regretted. «When I tried to consult a pediatrician here in Paris, I was told that things are done differently here», she explained.

Faced with the situation, Fatima Zahra was advised to wait until she is back to Morocco to get her child vaccine. Meanwhile, her husband is confined alone in Morocco. «My husband couldn’t cope with the stress and our situation and suffered facial paralysis for 15 days», she argued.

On the other side of the Atlantic ocean, Imane, her husband and their two-year-old daughter are in the same situation. Stranded in Florida since March, the couple has been awaiting repatriation ever since.

Forced to rent an apartment for two months, Imane is torn between her job, her child and the stress that comes with waiting. «The consulate said that they can’t help us because they are supporting Moroccans living in the US who lost their jobs because of the crisis», she told Yabiladi. While trying to adapt with the forced stay, Imane’s daughter couldn’t.

«The current situation is very difficult on my daughter, she doesn’t understand why we are still here», the mother said. «Every day she asks the same questions : Why aren’t we home ?» said Imane, who tried several times to slowly explain the situation to her daughter.

While the desperate mothers and the future father are impatiently awaiting a flight home, authorities in Morocco have not revealed any dates when it comes to repatriation. During the weeked, a group of Moroccans stranded in Melilla was brought home but recent numbers suggest that more than 31,000 stranded Moroccans are demanding repatriation.

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