Rabat – Morocco on Sunday begins welcoming an influx of its citizens living in Europe after the pandemic led to a halt in what has been called one of the world’s biggest cross-continental migrations.
The last such effort in the summer of 2019 saw 3.3 million people and more than three quarters of a million vehicles cross the Gibraltar Strait.
The North African kingdom is just 14km (nine miles) from the coast of Spain, which has announced it will also put in place special measures for Moroccans from June 15 for two months.
Spain’s government has called the seasonal migration “one of the biggest flows of people across continents in such a small time”.
Resuming large-scale cross-strait travel comes not only after an easing of the pandemic threat but also following a mending of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
The year-long diplomatic dispute had extended border closures originally put in place because of Covid-19, but maritime traffic resumed in April.
“Operation Marhaba (Welcome) for Moroccans living overseas begins on June 5,” said a statement late Saturday from the Mohammed V Solidarity Foundation which organises the effort.
More than 1 000 people including doctors, social workers and volunteers have signed up to help people arriving at ports and airports.
Most will come by boat from Spain.
As well as at Moroccan ports, helpers will be stationed in the Spanish ports of Almeria and Algeciras, Marseille in France and Italy’s Genoa, among others.
The traffic goes in both directions, as many Moroccans also head to Spanish coastal resorts for their holidays.