July 6, 2022

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Reopens borders for Moroccans working in the enclaves of Chyota and Melilla

Reopens borders for Moroccans working in the enclaves of Chyota and Melilla

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After nearly two years of closure, the border areas of Ciuda and Melilla have reopened to Moroccans working in the two cities, Spanish and Moroccan officials announced Tuesday. With the number of workers approaching 4,400 when the borders were closed in March 2020, only about 230 Moroccans with “legal status” could return to work.

In the context of reconciliation between the two countries, he returned Morocco and Spain On Tuesday, after a gap of two years, Moroccans working in the two cities opened their border crossings in the enclaves of Ciuda and Melilla. However, this decision is currently valid for a limited number of visas.

Officials in the two cities noted that only about 230 Moroccans with “legal status” were able to return, most of them female housemaids in Chyota and Melilla.

According to official Spanish sources, the number of workers reached about 4,400 when the borders were closed in March 2020. The Border Workers’ Union in Morocco says the number has exceeded 8,000. Since the borders were closed due to the Govt-19 epidemic, they have lost their source of income due to the diplomatic crisis that erupted between Morocco and Spain in the spring of next year.

They are hopeful that Rabat and Madrid have recently reached a reconciliation agreement, in which these crossings will reopen for passengers from mid-March, and for workers starting from Tuesday. But most of them have lost their jobs and can no longer return to Ceuta on the basis of their expired work permit. As a result, they had to obtain visas to enter in lieu of adequate work permits before the borders were closed.

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For its part, local officials at Ceuta made it clear that only 35 to 40 people would be allowed in a day, noting that from tomorrow “regularize their status and apply for visas”, the decision should be “gradual and orderly”. End to border opening and informal economy

However, the Moroccan Border Workers’ Union considers the decision “unreasonable” and calls on the governments of Rafat and Madrid to withdraw, and to allow them to settle their situation with their employers or seek other employment on the basis of prior work permits. , Union official Chakib Marouane told AFP.

On Tuesday morning, dozens of women who had lost their jobs during the crisis gathered near the road leading to Ceuta Crossing in the center of Fnideq to protest the “denial of entry”.

‘No visa’

The workers chanted “No visa” and they announced their work licenses. Most of them are domestic workers, who are better paid than they get for the same job in Morocco.

“I have been waiting impatiently for this day … but we were surprised that the visa was imposed on us,” Latifa, 45, from the neighboring city of Tetuwan, told AFP. “After working as a nanny in Chyota for 15 years, it is unfair to ask me for a visa. I want to enter because I am sure I will get a job that does not come here,” he added. Latifa supports a family of three children.

In turn, Aziza, 53, expressed his frustration, saying, “During the crisis we lived in extreme conditions that surprised us with no savings. It was unreasonable for them to impose a visa to enter a city we did not notice. From the roof of our house.”

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She, too, said she was “confident” in looking for work in Chuta to support her family of six. Workers have been protesting for the past two years, demanding that the authorities reopen the border and help them find support in the face of unemployment.

The return of Moroccan workers to Chyota and Melilla was one of the terms of the Reconciliation Agreement reached in Rabat and Madrid in April, ending a year-long severe diplomatic crisis. Compromise is possible only if Madrid changes its neutral position on the Western Sahara conflict, in support of the autonomy proposal proposed by Morocco as the only solution to end the conflict.

The third step was the resumption of shipping between the two countries in mid-April, and to co-operate in combating irregular migration and regulating the transport of Moroccans living in Europe through the ports of the two countries from 15 June.

The reconciliation ended the crisis as Madrid hosted the treatment of Ibrahim Khali, the leader of the police force leading to the independence of the Western Sahara.

At the time, the crisis was exacerbated by the influx of nearly 10,000 immigrants, mostly Moroccans, into the Ciota enclave area, using loose border control from the Moroccan side.

France 24 / AFP