In the summer of 2019, Morocco welcomed nearly 3 million Moroccans living abroad who entered the country after a transit in Spain.
Rabat – The maritime transit operation between Morocco and Spain through the Strait of Gibraltar will not begin in June like it used to, Spanish Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska announced on Tuesday, May 26, quoted by Spanish media.
The Spanish operation, known as “Operacion Paso del Estrecho,” normally takes place between June and October in the port of Algeciras, southern Spain, and facilitates sea travel between Europe and North Africa.
Every year, the operation facilitates the crossing of 3.5 million people and 750,000 vehicles, Grande-Marlaska revealed. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the operation will be delayed, pending coordination between Spain and the countries with which it shares maritime links.
Because of the health crisis, preparations for the transit operation started behind schedule. Spanish authorities are “in contact with all the countries involved,” including France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Morocco and Algeria.
The operation is “of maximum sensitivity” both for travelers and for diplomatic relations between Spain and its partners Morocco and Algeria, Grande-Marlaska continued.
The Spanish transit operation, which facilitates the visits of Maghrebis living in Europe to their home countries, is met with the similar Operation Marhaba in Morocco.
The Moroccan operation welcomes Moroccans living abroad over the summer and facilitates both their arrival to Morocco and their return to Europe.
Operation Marhaba normally lasts between June and September. However, as Morocco’s international borders remain closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moroccan operation will probably witness a delay, similarly to its Spanish counterpart.
In 2019, Operation Marhaba lasted from June 5 until September 15 and facilitated the travel of 2,965,000 Moroccans living abroad who visited their home country. At times, over 40,000 people crossed the Moroccan border per day.