Western Sahara’s stranded refugees consider renewal of Morocco conflict
Tumana Ahmed is tired of dreaming of a homeland she has never seen.
The 28-year-old was born in the desolate desert of western Algeria, in a refugee camp that was supposed to be temporary. Only there has been nothing temporary about her situation, or that of about 150,000 of her current neighbours.
Ahmed’s family and thousands of others fled their homeland of Western Sahara, a territory bordering Algeria that is about the size of New Zealand, after Morocco annexed the territory in 1975. Nearly 40 years later, the families still have not returned.
Morocco and Western Sahara engaged in armed conflict until 1991, when the UN brokered a ceasefire. As part of the deal, Morocco was supposed to conduct a referendum for Sahrawis to decide whether they wanted to be part of an independent nation or remain under Moroccan rule. But that referendum still hasn’t happened. Many Sahrawis worry that without a return to armed conflict, the referendum may never happen.
“For me, I think there are only two solutions,” Ahmed said. “We go to the borders, fight, make war, which is not the best solution. And the other solution, which is self-determination, this is the best one. Just let us vote. Is Morocco afraid of something?”
Leaders of the Sahrawi resistance movement who govern the camps encourage Sahrawi youths to be patient.
Former UN Legal Counsel Says Operations in the Disputed Territory Violate International Law
Morocco has broken international law by signing an agreement with US-based Kosmos Energy to permit drilling in the Western Sahara, says Hans Corell, a former under-secretary-general for legal affairs and legal counsel of the UN, reported the Middle East Economic Digest magazine (MEED), in its edition on January 8.
“Morocco is breaking international law … signing an agreement of this nature is in violation of international law,” the former head of the UN Secretariat Office of Legal Affairs told MEED. “I am looking to the Security Council and the responsibility that the council has under the UN Charter.”
According to Corell, Morocco has violated the principles of international law applicable to mineral resource activities in ‘non-self-governing territories’, the term used by the UN for countries that are yet to complete the decolonisation process.
Kosmos Energy started drilling in the offshore Cap Boujdour region of the disputed territory on 19 December using the $100m drill ship the Atwood Achiever, it should be recalled.
Moroccan Occupying Authorities ‘Violently’ Intervene Against Peaceful Sit-in of Unemployed Saharawis
Moroccan occupying authorities “violently” intervened on Saturday, against a peaceful sit-in organized by the local coordination of unemployed gradual Saharawis, in front of the headquarters of what is called Moroccan Union of employment in the occupied city of El Aaiun.
The coordination has announced since its inception, that it will organize a peaceful demonstrations to demand the right to direct employment, as a guaranteed right in all international covenants and treaties signed and ratified by Moroccan State.
The unemployed Saharawis demanded the occupying Moroccan State to enable them from all their legal rights as the right to direct employment and the right to gather and organize peaceful demonstrations, and to benefit from all natural resources of Western Sahara that Morocco is plundering.
Local coordination of unemployed gradual Saharawis has issued a statement, from which it announced that it will hang on its right to direct employment and to continue peaceful struggle, confirming its rejection to all Moroccan suspicious attempts and efforts that aim to stop their peaceful and legal struggle.