Moroccans studying abroad struggle to make ends meet amid global health crisis

Moroccans studying abroad have found themselves unable to get by amid the global health crisis. Unable to pay rent and food, some of them are faced with homelessness.

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As Morocco is still implementing a travel ban, several students are unable to return home. Even with the start of repatriation operations, Moroccan students in several parts of the world are struggling to make ends meet.

Due to the coronavirus health crisis, some of them have told Yabiladi that they would soon be left to live on the streets as they are running out of money. Soufiane, a 22-year-old student, is unable to keep affording his continuous forced stay in Saudi Arabia.

Studying architecture in Jizan as part of an exchange program, the student will have to leave the campus in a few days with nowhere else to go. «The semester was over a month ago and the scholarship I get from the university stopped», he told Yabiladi.

«The campus administration called me and said that I have to leave because the facility will be used to shelter Covid-19 patients», he said. Soufiane, who has no other sources of income, lives currently off the food his classmates bring him.

Struggling to keep a roof over their heads

Salma*, a 26-year-old student in Seoul, is in the same boat. The engineering student is unable to pay her apartment’s rent after she lost her part-time job due to the global health crisis. In Morocco, her parents, who used to send her money have also lost their jobs.

«My parents stopped working due to the coronavirus crisis and they are no longer able to support me», she regretted. Unable to afford her stay in South Korea, Salma* managed to get by for some time off the generosity of her friends and a Moroccan woman who helped her pay the rent and get food.

However, that was not enough. «Now I am facing the danger of living on the streets because I no longer have any financial support, even my classmates can no longer pay my rent», she said.

In Sunderland, the UK, pharmacy student Sanae* is fighting the same demons, while unable to be repatriated to her country. The 20-year-old student has found helself alone and helpless amid the health crisis.

«School is over and all foreign students have been repatriated. I live alone and in a week I will have to pay a rent that I cannot afford», she said worryingly.

In addition to the already difficult sitation, Sanae* has been dealing with health issues recently. «I see a doctor as I started having shortness of breath because of my asthma», she said. The student is also suffering due to her anxiety. «I can neither sleep nor eat and my doctor said that I have to see a therapist as I started having suicidal thoughts», she regretted.

Anxious, alone and penniless 

Najale* is another Moroccan student who is awaiting repatriation. Stranded in the US due to the coronavirus crisis, the 20-year-old Moroccan went there on a four-month-long exchange program. «My visa expired on May 31 and I had to be home on mid-May», she explained.

Najale* who is currently staying at a distant cousin’s house in California, was first living in New York before things got a bit worrying for her. «The coronavirus cases there started going up and the university sent all students home. I felt unsafe and scared», she said.

«The situation got really bad when the protests started and a curfew was implemented», she explained. Najale* who awaits repatriation said that she suffers from a health condition and that she needs to buy her medicine. «My father had to close his business for three months, he’s been struggling to make ends meet, and that makes things even harder on me», she added.

The situation is not much better for Othmane*, a Moroccan student in Senegal. The 19-year-old is struggling to survive as he is one of the many students stranded there. «It is very expensive to get by», he said, adding that his credit card, through which he used to retrieve his scholarship money, was swallowed by an ATM and he has not been able to retrieve it ever since.

Dakar, Senegal. / DRDakar, Senegal. / DR

Nisrine*, a dental student in Jordan, is also struggling with her finances while stuck in the country. The 20-year-old came to Jordan as part of an exchange program. The Moroccan, who used to receive a scholarship at end of every semester said that she «no longer have money». «Even our parents who used to send us money are now struggling because of the crisis», she regretted.

Many other students are still awaiting their repatriation or the opening of borders to return home. Meanwhile, repatriation operations organized by the Moroccan authorities target in priority vulnerable citizens and tourists on short-term visas.

*Names have been changed

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