Stuck in Morocco, Far From Home: ‘I Feel Heartbroken Without My Kids’

Siham Barendse and the flight that was supposed to take her home.

Casablanca –  Siham Barendse arrived in Oujda, northeastern Morocco, almost two weeks ago for a short family visit. 

Barendse, an executive assistant at the Dutch Ministry of Internal Affairs, planned to stay just four days. 

One day after her arrival, Morocco announced the suspension of all international flights until further notice. A few days later, the country entered a state of emergency, and everything changed.

After some days desperately looking for information but without any clear outcome, Barendse managed to book two very expensive seats for her and her father on one of the last flights from Nador to Eindhoven in the Netherlands. 

But when she arrived at the airport, it was closed, leaving her with no option but to return to her family in Oujda and wait for information or an opportunity to get back to her husband and two kids

Almost two weeks passed by and Barendse sees her kids, 14-year-old Adam and 11-year-old Noor, only through FaceTime.

“I try to make the best of this situation but it is very hard to be away from my kids in these hard times. They need their mother,” Barendse told Morocco World News on March 25. 

“I feel really sad to not be able to be there for them now. I try to do what I can, we discuss about their day every evening by FaceTime and I phone a few times per day to help them do their homework.”

Although Siham’s story was featured on several Dutch television channels, she still has no idea when she can return home, despite many attempts to register her case with the Dutch government.  

“I don’t get any answers, not even a confirmation. Yesterday it was announced on the Moroccan news that Canada can send repatriation flights. What about the Netherlands? Where are they? I feel so powerless and left alone.”

Read also: How Foreigners Experience the Lockdown in Morocco