OVERSEAS Filipino workers (OFWs) in Morocco believe that the government has done its job in mitigating the spread of Covid-19 in this northwest African country.
As of November 24, Morocco had administered over 48.6 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, the highest number of inoculations so far in the whole African continent.
At least 61.3 percent of the country’s 39.6 million population has been fully vaccinated, which some OFWs deem as a good number compared to other countries in the continent.
“The health authorities [here in Morocco] made an excellent intervention in combating the spread of the virus. [There was] no problem at all,” OFW Fernando Lopez said.
“Lately, [they] are back to their normal lives. They were able to return to their respective jobs,”
The Covid-19 cases in Morocco have been decreasing in the past three months, with an average of 306 cases each day, Reuters’s Covid-19 tracker reported. The country’s vaccination rate is approximately 126 doses per 100 people.
According to Inah Saplala, an OFW in the Moroccan capital Rabat, the government mandated vaccination.
“Vaccination is mandatory; you cannot enter any building or place without the vaccination pass. Thankfully, no changes happened in my work,” Saplala said, adding she is one of the lucky ones whose work was not affected by the pandemic.
However, Saplala said many OFWs still lost their jobs and were forced to go home.
Recent records from the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration showed deployed OFWs in Morocco plummeted by 80 percent: from 645 in 2019 to only 124 in 2020.
Saplala said the Moroccan government, however, didn’t give financial support to foreign workers
An August 13 report by the Switzerland-based nonprofit the Global Detention Project wrote that migrant workers and asylum seekers in Morocco “have faced a number of increasing hardships since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, including as a result of their lost access to work during lockdowns.”
Reuters also reported that irregular or undocumented migrants in Morroco were not included in the mandatory vaccination program of government.
Morocco hosted a United Nations-run intergovernmental conference in December 2018 that led to the approval of the Global Compact on Migration (GCM), a non-binding instrument where origin states and host countries initiate measures to help migrants and refugees.
Nonetheless, Filipino migrants still found a way to help their compatriots.
Aside from food vouchers given by the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) in Rabat, Lopez initiated a relief effort last year to give financial assistance to some OFWs in Rabat who had lost their jobs.
“I couldn’t sleep thinking of my fellow Filipinos here in Morocco. This is not my responsibility but we ought to help,” he said,
Lopez said they came up with a fund of around 2,000 Moroccan dirhams (about P10,912.12 at current exchange rates); enough to help some families in Takadoum, an area within Rabat.
“That’s how we started a small relief effort here in Rabat.”
Despite the small number of Filipinos working and living in Morocco (over 4,600, as of 2019 figures from the Department of Foreign Affairs), the relief effort gained support and positive feedback which resulted in more donors. The 2020 donation drive lasted for three months.
Amid the pandemic, the cash remittances coming from Filipinos in Morocco rose to $0.671 million in 2020 from $0.538 million in 2019, data from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas showed.