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Morocco Excludes Spanish Ports From Annual Operation Paso Del Estrecho

Morocco excludes Spanish ports from annual Operation Paso Del Estrecho

Rabat, Morocco (PortSEurope) June 9, 2021 – Last week, the Moroccan government announced that Spanish ports would not be included the annual Operation Paso Del Estrecho (Marhaba), which is the organised movement of Moroccans working in Europe back to Morocco. Over 3 million people usually make the journey, returning home for holidays in the the summer and repatriating money. Last year, Morocco suspended passenger services
with Spanish port on health grounds based on the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis. the ban will remain in place this summer. “We are living a situation very similar to last year’s, with even a higher incidence, and we all agree the more convenient was to suspend the ‘Straits crossing’ operation,” Spanish spokeswoman Maria Jesus Montero said. Moroccans travelling home will have to use ports such as Marseille, Sète (both France) and Genoa (Italy). it was reported in Spain that the port of Motril alone could lose more than €20 million as a result of the decision. The ports of Algeciras, Tarifa, Malaga, Almeria, Alicante, Ceuta, and Melilla are usually inundated with Moroccans making the journey, and means a significant loss in revenue for port operators and ferry companies. This is a blow to Spanish ports which previously played a key role in handling the annual increase in passengers and have invested significant sums in upgrading passenger services and port facilities. Relations between the two countries are tense currently for two reasons. Firstly, the leader of the Western Sahara independence movement, Brahim Ghali, returned to Algeria after spending more than a month in hospital in Spain. Morocco claims the Western Sahara as part of its territory. Secondly, Moroccan migrants have been forcing their way into Ceuta, a Spanish autonomous city on the north coast of Africa. Bordered by Morocco, it lies along the boundary between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Madrid say that Morocco failed to control its borders and let thousands of migrants into its North African enclave of Ceuta. Copyright (C) PortSEurope. All Rights Reserved. 2021.

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