Ceuta, Spain, May 17 (EFE).- It has taken two years, two months and four days for the border at Tarajal – the only crossing point between the Spanish city of Ceuta in North Africa and Morocco – to officially reopen since its closure as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
People arriving from Morocco overnight Monday were greeted with cheers and happy faces at the border, where hundreds of people had gathered.
The border customs office closed the border on Mar. 13, 2020 on account of Covid-19, leaving thousands on both sides stranded.
Movement across the border of more than 20,000 people and 3,000 vehicles a day was temporarily halted with no official date given for its re-opening.
The unexpected closure led Morocco to open its borders in the subsequent days to only allow hundreds of motorhomes trapped in the country to leave.
The Spanish government’s delegation in Ceuta, together with the Moroccan authorities, launched so-called “humanitarian corridors” to enable the return of hundreds of cross-border workers to Morocco.
The first corridor was opened on May 22, 2020 and enabled the departure of 190 Moroccans from Ceuta. The next one was not opened until Sep. 30, 2020 and the sixth and final corridor was set up on Oct. 5.
Since then, the border of Tarajal has been closed, allowing the Ministry of the Interior to undertake a series of refurbishment works for its better functioning.
In the midst of this erupted a serious migration crisis in May 17-18 of 2021, when more than 10,000 people crossed the border – either by swimming in or climbing over the fence – into Ceuta.
Previously, many Moroccans had swum from Ceuta to their country or the other way around for a variety of reasons: some to return to their homes and others in search of a better future.
A Civil Guard agent told EFE that the number of people crossing over could not be quantified.
On May 17, 2022, the Tarajal border once again became an operational border crossing point. EFE