A work pays tribute to Operation Marhaba and OPE of the Strait

Since last Thursday in Algeciras, on the Paseo del Río de la Miel, huge and “strange” footprints mark the round trip that connects the bus station and the central access to the Port, thus strewing the floor of this now legendary passage entering the history of migration in all its forms.

They indicate a route that millions of people have taken on their journeys from Europe to Morocco and back. The nerve center for this being at the maritime station of Algeciras. The 47 footprints, in vinyl, are there in homage to all the institutions, companies and people who work to make Operation Crossing the Strait possible (OPE) or Operation Marhaba when it is seen as such from the southern shore of Dame Méditerranée. These prints form the exhibition ” Back and forth emotions of the Márgenes y Vínculos Foundation” in tribute to the millions of passengers, RME, tourists and others who have crossed the Strait in both directions.

Thirty-seven artists have joined this initiative to do so with their creations, to which are added ten others from collaborating institutions. No less than 47 works of art highlight this lively avenue of Algeciras that should serve as a reason for reflection for pedestrians when it comes to migration and crossing the strait. Of ’emotions go-retour“ were organized as part of the project “ A Positive Neighborhood », developed by Márgenes y Vínculos. On the other hand, the Port Authority of the Bay of Algeciras and the Department of Culture of the Town Hall have collaborated financially in this initiative.

The opening ceremony saw the participation of musicians, painters, actors, writers and other artists, who as part of their collaboration in the event made the central promenade located between Juan de la Cierva and Villanueva avenues to signify that an ideal framework for reflection on migration was essential. Attended this inauguration, the president of Márgenes y Vínculos, Francisco Mena, accompanied by representatives of institutions working together for the proper development of the crossing of the strait, in addition, the Consul of Morocco in Algeciras, Mohamed Rafaoui, representatives of the Autonomous Port and the Town Hall, the Colonel-in-Chief of the Civil Guard Command, the local commissioner, the president of the Red Cross in Algeciras, as well as the president of the Traditional Trade Association of the historic district of Algiers.

Francisco Mena said Back and forth emotions wants to recognize the enormous work done for many years by the Port Authority and all the entities and companies involved in crossing the strait, which, he recalled, involves the transit of three million people every year from the ‘ Europe to the African continent, making it the largest migration process of people in the world in such a short time. He also highlighted the teamwork involved in crossing the strait, thanking in passing, the collaboration that Márgenes y Vínculo with his group of 37 creators of different artistic expressions, as well as the RecreArte association, which collaborated in this great cultural initiative. This is the intercultural coexistence in the neighborhoods as an element that enriches the social life of the cities in particular of Algiers and Tangier.

Spain and Morocco, it should be remembered, this year activated Operation Crossing the Strait (OPE) or Operation Marhaba. On this occasion, the Spanish ports which were excluded for the first time in 2020 and a second time in 2121, due to the Lady Covid-19 crisis, expressed their gratitude towards this opening of June 15, which allowed the operation of transit of vehicles and passengers. According to the Mohamed V Foundation for Solidarity, the coordinating organization, 17 rest areas have been set up, notably in the Mediterranean ports of Tanger-Med, Tanger-Ville, Al Hoceima and Nador. Other reception areas have also been set up in the ports of Almeria, Algeciras and Motril, as well as in Sète in France and Genoa in Italy.

In Spain it was reported that since 1986, the OPE has paid for outward and return journeys of Moroccans who travel during the summer from Europe to North Africa and back. For this 2022 edition, Rabat has prepared up to 32 ferries, with 571 weekly trips to cover the route between its ports and those of Spain, France and Italy, all with a capacity of 478,000 passengers and 123,000 cars. In this regard, some 23 ferries will operate on the lines connecting Morocco and Spain, of which 14 covered the main route Tangier-Med-Algeciras, a figure which represents around 95% of passenger traffic.

Operation “Crossing the Strait” OPE or Marhaba is one of the main tourist flows between continents. The number of passengers in 2019, the latest edition that until now included Spanish ports, amounted to 3,340,045 passengers, in addition to more than 760,000 vehicles. The figures have been reduced in 2020 and 2021 due to the exclusion of Spain.

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