More consular services for Moroccans living abroad. That was the star measure announced Monday by Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita before the Kingdom's House of Representatives. The objectives are to improve services to Moroccan citizens abroad in the context of the start of Operation Crossing the Strait or Marhaba, which begins on 15 June.
Aziz Akhannouch's administration intends to create more consulates in several countries, an electronic portal, a "unified consular guide" and a multilingual call centre. In this regard, Bourita highlighted the possibility of opening new consulates in the Libyan cities of Tripoli and Benghazi in the coming year.
Services already in place, such as the remote management of consular fees and the service for concentrating appointments, will also be improved. A whole battery of services that Morocco wants to reinforce during the three months of Operation Crossing the Strait, from 15 June to 15 September, to facilitate the return of the Moroccan community residing in Spain and other European Union countries.
The uniqueness of Marhaba
More than 3 million Moroccans living abroad accessed national territory during the last Operation Crossing the Strait, 4% more than the pre-pandemic figures for 2019. The Moroccan and Spanish authorities already have the necessary preparations in place to ensure that the number of visitors this year 2023 is higher than in previous operations.
Bourita reminded the House that the Moroccan delegation has been working on preparations for Operation Crossing the Strait since 3 May, and since 17 May in coordination with Spain, following the meeting of the joint commission in charge of the operation. In this regard, the minister stressed that the two parties are working on issues relating to the fluidity of the crossing, traffic, accompaniment, communication and health surveillance. A field of work that characterises this operation due to its bilateral and regional coordination between Morocco and other countries.
An OPE 2023 "with all the guarantees"
Spain and Morocco have been involved for 35 years in Operation Crossing the Strait, the operation governing the transit of North African citizens to North African countries, both from Spain and from other European Union countries. More than three decades "with absolutely satisfactory results" and "very well-oiled protocols", as the Spanish Minister of the Interior, Fernando Grande Marlaska, described it.
During a visit to Melilla, Marlaska stated that everything is ready for the special arrangements for the 2023 OPE, which will be carried out "with full guarantees, ensuring that the service is adequate and avoiding any delays that are not relevant" and with an "adequate service" to attend to travellers.
Everything is ready for Operation Crossing the Strait, the return of Moroccans Residing Abroad to the Kingdom, which is already a key point for the economies of Madrid and Rabat.