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Marhaba: A unique humanitarian action

Since the very first years of activity, the Foundation started carrying out a unique, extensive humanitarian activity which aimed to provide assistance and services to approximately 2 million Moroccans who were coming back to Morocco for the summer holidays from their countries of residence in Europe.

This action was all the more necessary as it concerned an important influx of people over a short 3-month period, through a basically maritime Europe-Morocco route.

Initially, the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity essentially provided assistance to passengers in difficult situations, like the elderly, pregnant women, children, people with special needs and people facing transportation-related problems (as in traffic accidents).

As the Foundation implemented this program, Moroccans living abroad wanted it to expand the scope of assistance and extend services to all passengers in order to ensure better homecoming conditions.

Thus, the operation for Moroccans living abroad, called Marhaba (welcome), gradually became more important in scope and was based on the values of solidarity, sharing and mobilization, as illustrated by its motto «Wherever we are, Morocco is part of us».

Operation

Consistent with the instructions of His Majesty the King, the Mohammed V Foundation for Solidarity, working alongside a host of actors from the public and private sectors within the a national committee presided by the Minister of Interior, contributes to the conduct of the Marhaba operation.

Working all year long, the committee seeks to ensure coordination among different actors and with representatives of the Spanish side.

There is constant coordination between Morocco and Spain. Joint action is carried out in a responsible spirit, taking into account the interests of both parties. This contributes to the operation’s success, given that the entry into Morocco via Spain remains the most important access route for travelers from Europe.

As part of an overall vision, several actors work together and help implement programs set forth by the national committee; they are:

  • Social services of the Royal Armed Forces
  • Royal Gendarmerie
  • National Police force
  • Customs
  • MARSA Morocco
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ministry of Equipment and Transportation
  • Ministry of Health
  • Maroc Telecom,
  • Maritime companies (COMARIT, COMANAV, …)
  • Local and communal authorities at the Foundation’s sites
  • National airport authority
  • Morocco’s  highway authority
  • Royal Air Maroc
  • Moroccan banks
  • Audiovisual media, radio stations and written press
  • Other people and staff cooperating with the Foundation, particularly doctors, nurses and volunteers.

In this respect, the Foundation puts at the disposal of Moroccans living abroad a whole range of services on a yearly basis to meet their needs in terms of administrative and medical assistance during their travel to Morocco from June 15th to September 15th.

Services are provided at different locations:

Outside Morocco :in Almeria and Algeciras (Spain), Sète (France) and Genoa (Italy)

In Morocco : ports of Tangier, Nador, Al Hoceima, as well as Bad Sebta, Casablanca and Oujda airports, in addition to 5 equipped rest areas in Larache, Taourirt, Gueznaya, Tazaghine and Ras El Ma.

More than 400 social workers, doctors, pharmacists and volunteers cater to the needs of the Moroccan community abroad through the Foundation’s sites and equipped rest areas (relaxation rooms, kids’ playgrounds, medical checkup rooms, ambulances, bathrooms, fountains, provision of mineral water, etc) to guarantee satisfactory transit conditions for our fellow citizens living abroad and provide them with the assistance they need.

Assistance operations are coordinated by a head office hosting a call center, working 24/7 that can be reached at the following numbers: 05 37 20 55 66 / 05 37 20 66 66 or by calling the hotline 08000 23 23 in Morocco.

In addition to the above, Moroccans living abroad can contact the Call Center from the sites abroad in Spain (Almeria and Algeciras), France (Sète) and Italy (Genoa).

Being connected to all of the Foundation’s sites, the head office can act to manage emergency situations that may arise.

To provide whatever information is needed by the Moroccan community abroad, the Foundation is working on a information guide and a pocket guide-book presenting the Foundation’s sites in 6 languages: Arabic, French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German as well as Amazigh (Tifinagh script). This guide is available, free of charge, at consulates, banks in Europe, Royal Air Maroc counters, partner representative branches, transport companies, ferries connecting Europe to Morocco as well as at all of the Foundation’s sites.

During the homecoming period, the Foundation, working jointly with the actors concerned, provides some complementary services to help carry out police control formalities at the rest areas and the relevant sites to prevent potential delay and overcrowding. This considerably reduces the waiting time before boarding, particularly in the port of Tangier where traffic is smooth and the waiting time during the 5 days of peak passenger flow does not exceed an average of two hours.

Marhaba operation in figures

In 2007, during the transit period (ending mid-September), the Foundation provided assistance to about 60,000 people, of whom 8,500 received medical assistance. Services included medical evacuation, support to families following traffic accidents, assistance with transportation and administrative procedures…etc.

The total number of arrivals at all ports of entry was 1,937,074, i.e. a 19.14% increase. 

The number of vehicles was 404,948, amounting to an 11% increase.

The favorite route is by sea, preferred by 70.30% of travelers. Nevertheless, with 29.70% of all entries, access by air witnessed a significant increase in 2007.

The port of Tangier still comes first, with 31% of all entries, followed respectively by Bab Sebta (16.52%) and Nador (14.22%).

The Casablanca Mohammed V Airport is in fourth position, with a solid 12% of all entries.

The Marhaba operation has been gradually improving.

Improvements have concerned:

  • Port infrastructure, which has been upgraded and is offering better services;
  • Larger number of ships used, including 18 ferries and fast-ferries sailing through the Strait of Gibraltar;
  • Greater number of flights to Morocco;
  • Departments have been working closely with the Moroccan community abroad, providing additional services;
  • And, above all, there have been sustained efforts by the parties involved in the 2007 Marhaba operation, namely port, customs and security authorities

Thanks to the contribution of the different actors concerned, who have shown a keen sense of team spirit, the organization of the Marhaba operation has been characterized by harmony and fruitful partnership.

This approach helped surmount problems, particularly those relating to delays and ship breakdowns. Resumption of service is ensured within a reasonable time.

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