If the “Marhaba 2023” operation, for Moroccans residing abroad started on Monday June 5 and should continue until Friday September 15 in Morocco, on the other side it is from this Thursday that it will begin. The Spanish Ministry of the Interior will deploy a reinforced security device on this occasion.
This is how for the Marhaba operation which in Spain, responds to the sweet name of Crossing the Strait or (OPE) 2023 or even Crossing the strait, 19,441 police officers, which represents an increase of 21.4% compared to 2022, will be mobilized. In this edition, according to the Spanish Interior, there will be 18,593 agents of the National Police and the Civil Guard, to which must be added 648 other soldiers in the special services of the ports of embarkation.
In detail, the 4,520 National Police officers and 14,073 Civil Guard officers, plus 648 police officers will be stationed in the ports and borders of Valencia, Alicante, Almeria, Malaga, Motril, Algeciras, Tarifa, Sebta and Melilla. In addition, the security device will concern the local police of cities with embarkation ports.
During the summer period of 2022, there were periods of long queues at the entrances to certain ports due to increased traffic. Also this year it is planned, still according to the Interior, that a series of “Special measures, such as the interchangeability of tickets, can be applied to help speed up passenger boarding as much as possible”.
The objective of this deployment is to “guarantee the normal and smooth progress of the operation”, which takes place between June 15 and September 15 in Spain, and in which thousands of citizens of North African and sub-Saharan origin cross Spain to reach or return from their country during the summer period.
Last season, according to figures from the Spanish Interior, a total of 2,912,283 passengers and 695,487 vehicles crossed the Strait of Gibraltar in some 9,908 rotations in both directions during the three months of the operation. ” without clashes or incidents”. As in the previous edition, the period of Eid Al Adha should be the peak or the peak of the OPE. This period, we are told, should correspond to the greatest number of registered vehicles and be worth a few large traffic jams.
The plan also sets the dates that should be critical due to the massive influx of vehicles and passengers, both in the departure phase, between June 15 and August 15, and in the return phase, from June 15 July to September 15.
In this edition, the days marked as critical in the release phase are June 24, 25, 26 and 27, coinciding with the dates preceding the feast of the lamb, as well as July and August 29, 30 and 31. As for the return phase, it is expected that August 29, 30, 31 and September 1 will be the most complicated days.
The border information system has also been activated, which makes it possible to predict in advance the times and pace of arrival of vehicles at the ports. 2,428 display panels have been installed along the OPE route and will provide the necessary information to all travellers. A care system in which the Ministry of Health, the autonomous communities of Andalusia and the Valencian Community, as well as the Spanish Red Cross collaborate, has been set up. In addition, there will be staff specialized in social assistance who will offer them administrative support in their language.
According to the Interior, Spain and Morocco have had numerous bilateral meetings throughout the past few months between the technical teams involved in the design of Operation Marhaba 2023 and OPE 2023, with results endorsed May 17 last in Madrid with the meeting of the Hispano-Moroccan Mixed Commission.