MRE: The hiccups of the repatriation operation


Cry of distress for MREs and Moroccans stranded abroad. The hiccups of the special repatriation operation, after the partial reopening of the borders transformed the return to Morocco into a real obstacle course. The testimonies of several MREs, approached by L’Economiste, directly point to the government’s responsibility. “After more than 4 months of waiting, we were surprised by these incomprehensible decisions”, according to an MRE based in the Netherlands.

One of the first problems deplored by several witnesses: soaring prices, whether for return by sea or air. “The prices have been multiplied by 2 or even 3 for certain flights”, deplores an MRE based in France. According to the prices consulted by L’Economiste, the price of a Paris Casablanca ticket for July 15, from Charles De Gaulle airport, is 1,307 euros, for the same date.

Several MREs also criticized the decision to limit this operation to the two Airlines, RAM and Air Arabia. For the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is due to the exceptional situation linked to the Covid-19 crisis.

“Compensation between airlines is made impossible by legal and practical considerations. Consequently, only the tickets acquired from RAM and Air Arabia are valid, ”according to the explanations of the ministry. The soaring prices also concerned the tickets for ferry ships from the ports of Genoa and Sete. According to some MREs, it takes up to 3,000 euros for the round trip.

However, “it is the equivalent of the average budget spent by an MRE family during the holidays in Morocco,” he laments. Traditionally, “the crossing cost 500 euros round trip between Almeria and Nador,” he recalls. This year, only the two ports of Sete and Genoa are scheduled for this exceptional operation.

Another problem pointed out by this category: the difficulty of carrying out the tests according to the requirements imposed by the Moroccan government. The RAM published a press release last weekend, specifying that “passengers must imperatively fulfill the conditions put in place by the government”. These include PCR and serological tests dating back less than 48 hours.

However, several MREs have highlighted the difficulty of obtaining an appointment taking into account the date of their tickets. Some Moroccan embassies in European countries have taken over, coordinating the organization of the tests required before boarding. This is particularly the case in Portugal where the representation of Morocco “contacted a laboratory, present in several cities, for the establishment of a fluid reception and treatment system”. The persons concerned are called upon to contact the services of diplomatic representations, by communicating the coordinates of the flight to Morocco, in order to be able to fix an appointment with a date enabling the validity period of the tests to be respected ”. The situation is more complicated for those wishing to return by car. Especially those whose starting point is a country other than that of the two programmed ports.

For an MRE based in the Netherlands, “it takes 3 days to get an appointment for the tests, then 48 hours to get the results. In addition, there is an additional 48 hours’ drive to reach the port of departure. ” For this category, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs specifies “people who intend to return to Morocco by car, via the ports of Sete and Genoa, and whose validity of the test is less than the time of the road journey, an additional PCR test will be carried out on board the boat”.

The same problem arises for Moroccans stranded in certain countries of sub-Saharan Africa, where there is no possibility of carrying out the tests. For this category, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “contacts are underway with the authorities of these countries to find, as quickly as possible, appropriate solutions”.

Announcement effects

Beyond the short-term management of the problems linked to the return of MREs, the difficulties encountered by this category to return to the country this year are likely to impact the next holiday seasons. According to several witnesses, the MREs came back against the government’s management of the return file. Soaring prices risk pushing several MREs, particularly the 3rd generation, to opt for other destinations, in particular “Spain, Turkey or Greece, in particular for the quality of tourist services in these countries”. Faced with the cries of distress of the MRE, the head of government and the minister delegate in charge of this file did not provide any solution, during the last meeting of the Ministerial Commission for the affairs of Moroccans living abroad, held on Friday latest. The two managers were content with announcement effects, in particular the creation of a specialized committee for the implementation of measures and procedures to assist MREs upon their return, in addition to a digital space and ” a special platform to mobilize and support Moroccan investors and skills around the world.


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