Spain, Morocco reopen land borders

People arrive in Fnideq on May 17, 2022, after crossing in from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta as the land border between Morocco and Spain reopens after two years. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP)
People arrive in Fnideq on May 17, 2022, after crossing in from the Spanish enclave of Ceuta as the land border between Morocco and Spain reopens after two years. (Photo by AFP)

The land borders between Spain and Morocco at Ceuta and Melilla, Spain’s North African enclave cities, have begun to reopen after being closed for just over two years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and later a diplomatic crisis between the two countries.

Crowds gathered at the first border to reopen — Tarajal, in Ceuta, and Beni Enzar in Melilla — to witness the reopening at midnight Monday.

Crossings have been initially limited to residents of Europe’s passport-free Schengen area and their family members and will be expanded to cross-border workers by the end of the month.

Melilla regional President Eduardo de Castro told Spanish state radio RNE that traffic in the first hours had gone as planned.

“Things are completely normal, there are no massive crowds,” he said, adding that he expected it will take “several months” for customs controls to be re-established.

The local economies on both sides of the fences that slice of the tiny Spanish enclaves from Morocco in northwest Africa depend heavily on the crossings of goods and workers.