The Western Sahara

The story is familiar. Over a hundred thousand refugees languish in camps where many of them have lived for thirty years, others were born refugees, never knowing anything but the camps. The refugees fled the land their ancestors had lived on for nearly a thousand years following a foreign occupation, settlement, and annexation program, the country that displaced them refuses to enter meaningful negotiations and reneged on past agreements. A giant wall cuts off the refugees from 80% of their historic homeland, behind which the occupying power is attempting to establish facts on the ground, the basis for future negotiations, through a massive settlement program.

The story is familiar, but the names are not. This is Africa’s last colony, the Western Sahara. Since being claimed at the Berlin Conference, where Europe’s colonial powers divided Africa among themselves, in 1884 the Western Sahara has been under foreign occupation, first by the Spanish, then briefly and partially by Mauritania, and now almost completely by the Moroccans.

In 1991 Morocco agreed to abide by international law and the ruling of the International Court of Justice in the Hague and allow the Sahrawis who inhabit the territory the African kingdom claims as its Southern Provinces to vote on independence. Since then Rabat has dragged its feat, sought to undermine the independence movement, and blocked the referendum, seeking to include hundreds of thousands of Moroccan settlers in the poll which it has refused to allow.

Morocco’s defiance of international law and contempt for the wishes of the U.N Security Council have included mining the Sahara, the disappearing of hundreds, possibly thousands of civilians, arbitrary detention, politically motivated arrests, ethnic discrimination, torture, among other activities associated with its attempt to colonize the desert territory, have elicited little reaction from the international community which is reluctant to criticize a key regional ally.

Source : One Humanity

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