The Spanish enclaves’ plans can only go ahead if an agreement is met with the Moroccan government.
Rabat – The Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, in northern Morocco, have indirectly expressed their wish to reopen their land borders.
According to Spanish news outlet El Faro de Melilla, the two autonomous cities have been working on a protocol for reopening the borders with Morocco.
The cities’ government have already held three meetings via videoconference and will send the suggested protocol to the Spanish Ministry of the Interior after a final meeting on Wednesday, August 12.
According to an August 10 report, the Spanish government delegate in Ceuta, Salvadora Mateos, said Ceuta and Melilla want to reopen the borders with Morocco, while maintaining “all the necessary guarantees.”
The Spanish official, however, said that the proposal can only go ahead depending on the epidemiological situation of Morocco.
Officials from the Ceuta and Melilla governments announced the reopening of borders with Morocco will take place “gradually,” without giving a date.
The borders “will not open [in] the same [way] as before, there will be a consensus entry protocol,” Mateos said.
Those to benefit the first from the border reopening will be Moroccans who got stuck in the Spanish enclaves after the border closure in mid-March, she revealed.
Meanwhile, the entry of Moroccans to Ceuta and Melilla will depend on a series of criteria, including a working authorization.
Ceuta and Melilla authorities are using the period of border closure to upgrade their border control, equipping their side of the frontiers with facial recognition cameras and thermal sensors, El Faro de Melilla reported.
Will Morocco agree?
The enthusiasm of Ceuta and Melilla to reopen their borders with Morocco can only be turned into acts if the Moroccan government reciprocates the desire.
Last week, Morocco’s government announced that international borders will remain closed until at least September 10, the scheduled end date of Morocco’s state of emergency.
The government, however, has pushed back the date five times since the start of the domestic COVID-19 outbreak. Based on Morocco’s epidemiological indicators, further extension of the state of emergency is not unlikely.
With over 1,000 COVID-19 cases recorded in Morocco on a nearly daily basis, the Moroccan government is retracting many of its decisions and reimposing strict lockdown measures.
The Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima region, which borders Ceuta, has recorded the second-highest COVID-19 case count in Morocco as of August 10. Since the start of the domestic outbreak, Morocco’s northernmost region reported 7,552 cases.