This annual pilgrimage of Moroccan nationals who live or work in Spain, France, Italy and beyond sees Spanish roads in the month of July clogged with all manner of vehicles, loaded to the gunnels (and sometimes beyond) as they flock to different Spanish ports and then September when they return.
The most popular are Algeciras, Malaga and Tarifa as they account for the shortest crossing of the Straits of Gibraltar but there are also ferries running from Motril and Costa Blanca.
Last year, Operación Paso del Estrecho (OPE) didn’t take place because of the pandemic and lockdown but this year with the relaxation of restrictions it was certainly expected until on Sunday June 6, the Moroccan Foreign Ministry announced that although ferries could run from France and Italy, they would not be welcomed from Spain.
This is POLITICAL and has nothing to do with health.
Morocco excludes Spain's sea links in summer transit plan for diaspora
From the African perspective – and a more detailed article about the situation.
Morocco launched on Tuesday the great annual summer transit plan for its diaspora with a scheme excluding all sea links via Spain, and with discounts on air links to cushion the cost difference for travelers.
Against the backdrop of a major diplomatic crisis between Rabat and Madrid, the 2021 edition of this summer transit plan, which the Moroccan press presents as "one of the largest movements of people on the European continent", excludes all Spanish ports, including Algeciras located less than an hour's crossing from Tangier.
The Moroccan diaspora greeted the plan with immense disappointment, lamenting the high costs and longer crossing times, according to the local press.
Faced with the discontent, King Mohamed VI ordered on Monday the local actors of air and sea transport to "practice reasonable prices".
The exclusion of Spain from the scheme represents losses of between 450 and 500 million euros, just for the ferry companies operating the crossing, according to a calculation by the company FRS Iberia.
Pressure From Morocco Is Forcing a Rethink for Spain’s North African Enclaves
CEUTA, Spain—In March 2020, Morocco closed its land borders around Spain’s North African enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, citing the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They have remained closed since, and with no indication of when they might reopen amid diplomatic tensions between Spain and Morocco, the two enclaves have been forced to confront their dependency on a newly assertive Morocco and come up with a radically different economic model.
The economic picture in the enclaves, each of which hosts some 85,000 residents, has rarely been pretty. Today, about half the salaried workers in each are employed by the Spanish government, but they have some of the highest unemployment rates in Europe: nearly 30 percent in Ceuta and 20 percent in Melilla. Before the pandemic, much of the enclaves’ private enterprise depended on a particular form of border trade known as atypical commerce, in which goods would be shipped into the enclaves from around the world, then driven to the border with Morocco, where thousands of Moroccan “porters,” mostly women who would have entered the enclaves that morning, would be waiting to carry them into Morocco for a few euros. These huge, backbreaking packages still counted as hand luggage, avoiding Moroccan customs taxes. ...
The Gibraltar Moroccan community association holds protest asking Moroccan government to resume transport links with Gibraltar
The Gibraltar Moroccan community association has held a protest supported by 300-400, asking the Moroccan government to resume transport links between Gibraltar and Tangiers.
They said Moroccans on the Rock should be able to visit Morocco, like many Moroccans from other countries now can, highlighting the difficulties experienced by hundreds of families here for months now.
15th July 2021
The Minister for Business and Tourism, Vijay Daryanani, met with Ali Doussi, the spokesman of the Moroccan Community Association, to discuss ongoing efforts to re-establish air and sea links with Morocco.
The meeting comes after the Moroccan community demonstrated in John Mackintosh Square last Friday to call on the Moroccan Government to reopen the kingdom’s links with Gibraltar.
“The Moroccan community is an integral part of the Gibraltarian family and they have been having an extremely difficult time in visiting family in Morocco during the pandemic,” Mr Daryanani said.
“The Government is engaging with Royal Air Maroc and other commercial entities in trying to establish sea and air links.”
“The continuing lockdown in Morocco has complicated the situation even further.”
“I reassured Mr Doussi that the Government will continue working to achieve air and sea links with Morocco very soon.”
Morocco and Spain have reopened the land borders between the north African country and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, two years after they were shut due to Covid restrictions and a major diplomatic row.
The enclaves on the Mediterranean coast in northern Morocco have the European Union's only land borders with Africa.
The gates opened shortly after 11:00 pm local time (2200 GMT) on Monday night, letting dozens of cars and queues of pedestrians pass in both directions.