40 years of suffering for Sahrawi refugees from Western Sahara

4 November 2015 - 7:00am
War on Want in the news

Letter first published in the Guardian

While the current refugee crisis across Europe makes headlines, the people of Western Sahara have been experiencing a refugee crisis for 40 years.

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Morocco’s invasion of Western Sahara, which forced thousands of refugees into the Algerian desert. They are still there today, living in refugee camps, dependent on international aid. Last month these camps were devastated by severe flooding which has destroyed food and shelters, displacing 25,000 people.

Those who remained behind during the invasion now live under Moroccan occupation.

Despite the promise of a referendum in 1991 in which the people of Western Sahara would decide their future, the UN has failed to deliver. It has also failed to protect the people of Western Sahara from the torture, false imprisonment and sexual violence inflicted by the Moroccan state.

Meanwhile governments of the UK, EU and others collude in the exploitation of the Sahrawis’ rich resources.

While the UN has so far failed the people of Western Sahara, this refugee crisis is not going away. For as long as it continues, we stand beside the people of Western Sahara in their struggle for justice and self-determination.

John Gurr Coordinator, Western Sahara Campaign
Sidi Ahmed Messka President, Adala UK
Carne Ross Executive director, Independent Diplomat
John Hilary Executive director, War on Want
Joanna Allen Chair, Western Sahara Resource Watch
Craig Browne Western Sahara Action Forum
Bert Schouwenburg International officer, GMB
Christine Blower General secretary, National Union of Teachers
Danielle Smith and Violeta Ruano Sandblast
Dave Green National officer, Fire Brigades Union
Jenny Bourne Editor, Race and Class
Katriona Holmes Director, Knockengorroch
Sam Berkson Hammer and Tongue
Becky Finlay Hall and David Stothard Olive Branch Arts
Nicholas Pye Cambridge University Student Union
Christiane Perregaux Comité Suisse de soutien au peuple sahraoui
Cate Lewis Vice-president, Australia Western Sahara Association
Ron Guy Secretary, Australian Unions for Western Sahara
Tanja Brodtmann President, Freiheit für die Westsahara

Latest news

National action for trade democracy

23 November 2017 - 2:30pm

Join a two day mobilisation to build the campaign for trade democracy, organised by Global Justice Now and War on Want.

Thanks to the hard work of activists on the ground, and the brazenness of the government, trade democracy is climbing up the political agenda. Over 100 MPs have signed an EDM calling for increased parliamentary scrutiny over trade deals. The SNP are calling for Scotland to have its own trade policy. People don’t want chlorinated chicken flooding UK supermarkets. Now is the time to strengthen the campaign for trade democracy.

Read more

Watch videos of "Paradises of the Earth" Web Documentary - Tunisia

23 November 2017 - 8:15am

First Episode - Gabes: Watch now!

This episode follows an international solidarity caravan to the first stop of the trip: the mediterranean oasis of Gabes in southern #Tunisia, where the installation of a chemical phosphate factory on its shores caused an ecocide deeply impacting fishing, agriculture, water resources and people's livelihoods.

Read more

Join the conversation

RT @unitetheunion: #SportsDirectShame back in action | With the proposed £11m back pay for Ashley's brother, what about the outstanding bac… 13 hours 2 min ago
The people of Jemna are fighting for their right to work on their ancestral land. See their struggle in Paradises o… https://t.co/NKPCwqm7fT 13 hours 20 min ago
RT @novaramedia: TODAY 1PM #NovaraFM Climate and Capital after COP23 with @piercepenniless @chilledasad100 and @zoozanne. You can listen l… 16 hours 43 min ago