Operation Crossing the Strait to Morocco 2022 begins on Sunday, June 5

Image of a vehicle leaving a ferry in Morocco. Credit: [email protected]_map

The transit of Moroccan people from Europe to North Africa, known as Operation Crossing the Strait 2022, has begun.

 

Operation Marhaba, or Crossing the Strait (OPE), in which Moroccans residing abroad can return to their country using Spanish ports, begins today, Sunday, June 5.

As reported by the Moroccan News Agency (MAP), “This edition is marked by the launch of the global reception system in Morocco, France, Italy, and Spain, as well as the opening of new reception points in Morocco to support the return of residents abroad, whose assistance forecasts promise be significant”.

The Mohamed V Foundation for Solidarity, which contributes to the operation, has activated 23 reception areas. On the European side, the six official Marhaba departure points are located in the ports Genoa, Sete, Marseille, Motril, Almeria, and Algeciras.

Social and medical assistance services, reinforced by the presence of social workers on board the long-distance ships enabled during the 2021 edition of the operation, will continue to operate at the level of the Marhaba points deployed by the foundation in Morocco and abroad. 

A workforce of nearly 1,000 people will be mobilised, including Foundation teams, social workers, doctors, paramedical managers, and volunteers to listen to Moroccans living abroad, assist them and provide them with the necessary support and assistance, the same media outlet informed.

Authorities in Rabat also announced a series of telephone numbers for Moroccans who return to their country to spend their holidays.

Since 1986, the OPE has been organising round trip transit for citizens of Moroccan origin who travel from European countries to North Africa in the summer. It represents one of the largest movements of people between continents in such a short space of time. 

In 2019, the year in which the last OPE that included Spanish ports took place, 3,340,045 passengers and 760,215 vehicles crossed the Strait of Gibraltar through maritime lines between Morocco and Spain. 

Morocco has mobilised 32 ferries with 571 weekly trips, to cover the maritime lines that connect its ports with those of Spain, France and Italy during this summer’s OPE, with an estimated total capacity of approximately 478,000 passengers and 123,000 cars.

In 2020 and 2021, the Government of Morocco limited the return of Moroccan emigrants to their country to the use of ships only from the French ports of Marseille and Sete, as well as Genoa in Italy.

On April 12, the maritime links for passengers between the Spanish ports of Algeciras and Tarifa and the Moroccan ports of Tanger-Med and Tanger-Ville, respectively, re-established their activity just over two years after these routes had been suspended.

Likewise, on May 17, the land borders between Spain and Morocco, in the North African cities of Ceuta and Melilla reopened after being closed for more than two years of closure as a result of the pandemic and the bilateral political crisis between the two nations.

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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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