A queue at one of the border crossings between Morocco and Ceuta. / EP

Transport operation to get North Africans home for the holidays is hit by border delays

July saw the return of the special arrangements by authorities to speed up journey to North Africa


After two summers with the Morocco-Spanish frontier closed, this July has seen the restart in earnest of the annual 'Operation Crossing the Strait'. This is the special arrangements by the authorities to speed up the journey back to North Africa for the summer holidays of hundreds of thousands of Moroccans and Algerians who live in Europe.

The busiest crossing routes are from Algeciras to Tangier in Morocco and to Spanish Ceuta on the African coast. However, despite fluid road journeys through Spain and a short wait at Algeciras for a ferry, things have not been going smoothly on the land border between Ceuta and Morocco.

Last weekend there were waits of up to nine hours to clear border controls, with up to 900 cars waiting at a time in extreme heat. Some families had been travelling for over two days. Morocco's requirement for a Covid test result and only one lane to process passengers was being blamed.

The special operation is seeing record numbers using Spanish ports. In the first two weeks since officially starting on June 15, 188,253 passengers were recorded as crossing to Morocco or Algeria.

Passengers sailing from Malaga port to Spanish Melilla, before entering Morocco, were up 62 per cent alone on 2019 so far said local sources.