Rabat – Over 900 Moroccan agricultural workers are set to land in the southern island of Corsica in France on Friday to help save the clementine harvest.
Didier Ledshi, director of France’s Immigration and Integration Office (OFII), told AFP that the Moroccan workers “will be tested for COVID-19 on departure and arrival, and then seven days after their arrival.”
Five flights will transport the Moroccan workers, Leschi said.
Corsican farmers, who fear losing their products, are funding the flights.
COVID-19 and the closure of borders suspended activities of seasonal workers from North Africa, who constitute “a key part of foreign seasonal workers in France,” Morocco’s state media reported.
Despite the COVID-19 crisis, OFII announced it had made negotiations for an exceptional protocol with the Moroccan authorities so that seasonal workers “could move within Morocco to be able to take the flights.”
Local farmers in Corsica are also set to fund the return flights.
The annual production of clementines in the region ranges between 20,000 and 30,000 tonnes.
Seasonal workers will benefit from “three-or four-month” contracts, AFP said.
In addition to France, Spain also receives thousands of Moroccan seasonal workers.
Due to COVID-19, Morocco repatriated over 7,100 stranded seasonal workers from Huelva, where they worked on red fruits farms.
Moroccan seasonal workers who became stuck in Spain shared concerns regarding their situation.
In July, women farmers stranded in Huelva appeared in a video, calling on King Mohamed VI to intervene and facilitate their return.
Morocco had suspended ferry routes from Huelva, and the farmers explained they could not afford plane tickets home since they transferred their salaries to their families in Morocco.
“The work is over and we’re having a hard time. We already sent all the money to Morocco. Our kids are alone. No one is taking care of them. They miss us. We ask the King to open the port. We are here without work, without money, and without food. We ask the King to send us home,” said Fatima, one of the protestors.
In response, Moroccan and Spanish authorities agreed on a repatriation strategy on July 15.