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Southern Spain becomes focus of huge Europe-Morocco migration after Covid-19

Morocco on Sunday begins welcoming an influx of its citizens living in Europe after the pandemic led to a halt.

Southern Spain becomes focus of huge Europe-Morocco migration after Covid-19
A woman sleeps aboard a ferry at the Algeciras harbour on March 13, 2020 before Morocco closed its borders to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Photo: Jorge Guerrero/ AFP

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 14 kilometres (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.

READ ALSO: Spain and Morocco reopen land borders after two-year closure

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.

READ ALSO: Why are Ceuta and Melilla Spanish?

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TRAVEL NEWS

EasyJet pilots strike in Spain

EasyJet's Spanish pilots walked out on Friday, calling for the reinstatement of conditions they enjoyed before the coronavirus pandemic, two weeks after a strike by the low-cost carrier's cabin crew had resulted in a deal.

EasyJet pilots strike in Spain

Easyjet’s Spanish pilots walked out on Friday, calling for the reinstatement of conditions they enjoyed before the coronavirus pandemic, two weeks after a strike by the low-cost carrier’s cabin crew had resulted in a deal.

Coming at the height of the summer tourist season, the new Easyjet stoppages will add to the problems facing the sector.

Cabin crew at budget rival Ryanair have been staging 24-hour walkouts since June, which are likely to continue until January 2023, unions said.

The Easyjet pilots, for their part, are staging a first three-day strike from Friday at the airports of Barcelona, Malaga and the Mediterranean islands of Palma de Majorca and Minorca, the SEPLA union said.

Two more three-day walkouts are planned later in August.

“This is the only possible alternative for the pilots’ representatives, after more than six months of negotiations, at which the company has rejected all proposals made,” the union said.

The airline cancelled eight flights on Friday, most of them from Barcelona, Spain’s second-busiest airport.

“During the worst months of the pandemic, we agreed to lower our salaries to guarantee not only jobs, but the survival of the company itself in Spain,” the union said.

Now, however, the company “refuses to recover the working conditions. “We are not asking for anything that we did not have two years ago,” said a union spokesman.

In late July, EasyJet said it took a sizeable financial hit from sector-wide disruptions, notably staff shortages, but still slashed quarterly losses as demand recovered.

Just days later, EasyJet cabin crews ended their strike, after reaching a deal with management to raise wages by 22 percent over three years.

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