Following a closure that lasted for two years, Spain has yesterday resumed Operation Crossing the Strait, which will allow movement between the continent of Europe and Africa for three months.
Operation Crossing the Strait is the largest migration movement between the two continents. The operation was implemented in 1986 to facilitate the movement of people via the Strait that separates Europe and Africa, EEF explains.
The Strait was originally shut back in March 2020 and remained like that until April due to a political dispute between the two countries and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, now that Spain has decided to resume operation, Moroccan living in Europe will be able to return home for their summer holidays, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
According to Euractiv, more than three million North Africans are expected to visit their home countries this summer, from June 15 until September 15. Therefore, this seasonal migration has been called by the Spanish government as one of the biggest flows of people across the two continents.
The biggest flow of people reaching Morocco is expected from June 27 until July 3 as schools in Europe go on summer break.
The same source explains that the port of Algeciras, as well as the port of Tarifa, are two key points of the operation due to their proximity to the Port of Tangier in Morocco and Ceuta.
It has been noted that apart from the above-mentioned ports, the operation also affects ports in southern Spain and northern Morocco, such as Motril in Granada. The latter expects to serve around 150,000 passengers that aim to reach the Moroccan cities of Nador and Ahucemas and the Spanish city of Melilla.
In order to make sure that everything goes smoothly, Spain has deployed more than 15,000 police officers. The authorities have said that they are confident that the process will go as planned and without any incidents despite their previous dispute.
In addition, the Moroccan authorities have also taken similar measures. They have also deployed police officers and social workers to ensure that the traffic flows smoothly.
During this operation, which is the first one since the COVID-19 outbreak, travellers that enter Spain will be required to follow certain health protocols, such as presenting a vaccination, recovery, or test certificate.
The Local explains that the resumption of maritime traffic between the two continents came after Spain supported the autonomy plan of Morocco for Western Sahara.
Despite travellers who benefit the most from the operation, shipping companies, ports, and hotels will also be able to recover from the losses registered in the last two years.