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Spain and Morocco resume maritime links on the Strait of Gibraltar

Passengers disembarking at Tangiers port in Morocco   -  
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FADEL SENNA/AFP or licensors


Thousands of Moroccan nationals living and working in Europe have started crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in what is described as one of the largest seasonal flows of people between continents.

The short 14-kilometre crossing had originally been shut in March 2020 when Morocco severed transport links with Europe over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Connections between Morocco and Spain remained shut until last April due to a diplomatic dispute between the two nations.

"They [port authorities] help people who don't know anything. They fill in their paperwork and point them to where they need to go. Now, it's nice, it's not like before. Before, no one took care of you; you had to figure it out on your own. But now, thankfully, Morocco is beginning to change gradually", said Hanane, a passenger coming from Algeciras.

In 2019 during the last "Operation Crossing the Strait", which runs from June 15 to September 15, some 3.3 million people and over 760,000 vehicles made the crossing.

"I am a resident of Spain. I came with my small family, my husband and my son. We made it; the Mohammed V Foundation was very helpful. Thank God, everything went really well" added Sihame, another passenger taking the ferry from Algeciras. 

The resumption of maritime traffic comes after Spain in March supported Morocco's autonomy plan for Western Sahara, a disputed territory mostly controlled by Rabat, but claimed by the Polisario Front, ending a year-long diplomatic crisis.

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