Repatriated from Melilla, Moroccan returnees feel relieved after a long wait

Stranded for almost two months, a group of Moroccans repatriated from Melilla finally feels relieved. Currently under quarantine, they recall the hardships they went through during a long and exhausting wait.

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The 500 Moroccans stranded in Melilla since March due to the coronavirus crisis have seen their repatriation proceed in phases, starting from Friday, May 15. Returnees spoke to Yabiladi about their struggles before repatriation.

Rachid, who lives in Oujda, traveled to Melilla for a short stay. On March 13, when he learned that he could no longer return home, he was shocked. «The first few weeks were extremely hard, but we were hopeful», he recalls. However, the government’s silence about repatriation cut his hopes short.

«We slept on the street, helped only by a few donations from Moroccan residents at the beginning. Little by little, we got used to the idea of no longer being repatriated, as long as the health emergency remains in force».


Nights spent on the streets

The city of Melilla has set up a makeshift camp to accommodate stranded nationals unable to afford accommodation. But sanitary measures in the middle of the pandemic were difficult to respect under these conditions. After spending a few days there, Rachid told Yabiladi that he decided to leave that place to avoid infection.

«With friends, we tried to find a place to stay. We got help with hotel and food expenses, and it remained that way until we heard about the royal instructions about our repatriation», he said.

Said, who also lives in Oujda, went through the same «hard living conditions». «Thanks to the help of some people, we were able to have some blankets and warm clothes during our nights on the streets», he said. Said was «relieved when he heard of the launching of a repatriation operation following royal instructions».

But another Moroccan returnee noted that before anybody spoke about repatriation, the situation had become so difficult to manage on a daily basis that many «were psychologically affected by the living conditions». «The news was therefore a great relief to us. Now, we are impatient to meet and be with our loved ones, at the end of our sanitary confinement», he told Yabiladi.

Indeed, Moroccans repatriated from Melilla are currently quarantined in a hotel in Saïdia. During their repatriation, only one of them tested positive for the coronavirus. The Moroccan seems for the moment to be the only confirmed case among the returnees, who will undergo a second test during the week to rule out any infection.

Women and children remain stranded

«We were well taken care of by the teams mobilized from the Beni Ensar border post», recalls Saïd. He also reported that «medical teams, Civil Protection, FAR, Royal Gendarmerie and local authorities worked together to make the repatriation operation happen».

«We hope that the other Moroccans still stranded in Melilla will also be able to return home and be with their families», said one of the returnees, currently quarantined in Saïdia. According to sources consulted by Yabiladi, this repatriation operation would not have covered all Moroccans presenting social or medical emergencies. For the moment, no date for their return has been communicated.

«They are, in any case, numerous and there are women and children among them, demoralized and living in a very difficult situation», declared one of our local sources, who «hopes that a solution will be found for them as for all other Moroccans stranded around the world».

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