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Over 100 South Africans stranded in Morocco

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They are being forced to wait for the lockdown to end.

The ban on all international flights to and from Morocco has left over 100 South Africans stranded in the country, while a British holidaymaker has rued flying to the country for a four-day “sunshine break”.

With Morocco under lockdown, the confirmed coronavirus cases reached 638 as of April 1, with the number of recoveries standing at 26 and deaths at 37.

South African James de Wet said he had been pleading with the embassy since March 15 to bring them back home after Morocco announced it was shutting its airports. There had been hopes they could be repatriated from France.

But in a recent Facebook post, De Wet indicated the lockdown would continue in Morocco until April 20, “when hopefully we can get commercial flights home”.

Darren Bergman, the DA International Relations and Cooperation spokesperson, launched a WhatsApp group last week which attempts to document every South African stranded in different parts of the world.

“The response has been overwhelming and, besides from providing information for those less informed, it has given everyone a sense of unity. A huge shout out to him and his support team for this constructive initiative,” said De Wet.

“Fortunately the group in Morocco has organised itself reasonably effectively. However, there are hundreds of us in similar situations. While each persons level of plight differs, the one thing that unites us is the desire to get home.”

Briton Tom Ramm told theBBC his scheduled flight home on March 19 and three others he rebooked since were all cancelled.

“I just don’t know what’s going on. I came out on a shoestring budget and the money is running out,” he said.

The 29-year-old from Gloucestershire left the UK on March 15 with a friend for “a short break, just to get some sunshine”.

“We were meant to be flying back on the 19 March with Easyjet. We tried speaking to customer services, but were on the phone for two-and-a-half hours only to get down to 700th in the queue and be cut off.”

The tree surgeon said they were paying a reduced rate for an Airbnb in Marrakesh and were grateful to the owners, but they would be left with a hefty bill when they leave.

“We are trying to keep morale high but mental health is a factor and we’ve had a few teary phone calls with family back home.”

A British Foreign Office spokesperson said consular staff were aware of his situation and providing support.

“The government has partnered with a number of airlines who have committed to work together to get Brits back to the UK and up to £75 million has been made available for charter flights were commercial options are no longer available,” he said.

“We are sorry that (Mr Ramm) did not book on to any of these flights as they included services from Morocco to the UK over the last week. Unfortunately, he was not contacted because he had transferred on to new flights.”

IOL