Madrid and Rabat have agreed to reopen “in the coming days” the borders between the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla and northern Morocco, which have been closed for two years, the Spanish Foreign Minister announced on Wednesday May 11. , José Manuel Albares, during a meeting in Marrakech of the coalition against the jihadist group Islamic State (IS). The exact date has not yet been announced. “The decision is made, but there are still practical aspects” to be resolved, Mr. Albares explained.
These border posts had been closed during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, in the spring of 2020, then kept closed due to a diplomatic crisis between Madrid and Rabat. These land borders, the only ones between the European Union and Africa, were to reopen “Saturday April 30 at midnight”, indicated the Spanish Ministry of the Interior, but the closure was extended for two weeks to prepare for the reopening, according to the Spanish official journal.
The deal comes after Madrid ended a nearly year-long diplomatic crisis with Rabat on March 18, when the Spanish government reversed course by publicly backing Morocco’s autonomy plan for disputed Western Sahara. with the Sahrawi separatists.
Caused by the reception in Spain of the leader of the Sahrawi separatists of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, to be treated there for Covid-19, the quarrel between Rabat and Madrid had led to the arrival in May 2021 of more than 10,000 migrants in Ceuta in twenty-four hours, thanks to a relaxation of controls on the Moroccan side.
On this subject, Mr. Albares welcomed on Wednesday a “70%” drop in the arrival of migrants in the Spanish archipelago of the Canaries, located off the coast of Morocco, between March-April 2021 and January-February 2022, which he attributes “in part to the collaboration between the law enforcement agencies” of the two countries.