Thousands of African migrants without revenue during Morocco’s coronavirus lockdown could run out of money for food and essentials, and rights groups have urged the government to offer them the same cash help it has promised to citizens.

The North African country has imposed a month-long lockdown restricting movement to purchases of food or medicine and to staffing some key jobs, with 761 cases of the coronavirus confirmed, including 47 deaths.

Saddou Habi, 30, who came to Morocco two years ago from Guinea, and decided to stay rather than trying to reach Europe after getting a job in a restaurant, said his money will run out in 10 days.

“I have been helping my four other flat mates whose financial situation is worse than mine,” he said.

“We are respecting all measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus but we need urgent help to go through these difficult times,” he said.

The government has promised monthly support of about $120 a month to households where the main provider has lost work in the informal economy because of the lockdown.

At present, that aid will go to people with a “free health service” card available only to Moroccans. The government plans to roll it out to people who do not have the card, but has not said if this would be extended to migrants.

The state will also pay about $200 a month to workers in private companies who are registered with the state social insurance scheme.

It leaves most of the 50 000 migrants who have obtained official residency permits since 2013 without help.

The far larger number of undocumented migrants, many of them homeless or seeking to pass through Morocco to reach Europe, face even less chance of assistance.

The National Human Rights Council and the Moroccan Association for Human Rights have urged the government to help. The finance ministry did not respond when asked if migrants would become eligible for state aid.

–Reuters–