Western Sahara

Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975. Decades later, tens of thousands of Saharawi people are still living in a state of siege and face appalling human rights abuses and repression.

In addition 165,000 refugees live on an inhospitable plain in the Sahara desert. Temperatures range from the scorching to the freezing, water is scarce, access to the outside world is difficult. The people of Western Sahara have been forced to live here, struggling to return to a homeland where they can determine their own future.

On 31 October 1975, Morocco and Mauritania invaded Western Sahara as Spain (the former colonial power) looked on. The Saharawi people were expelled from their homes by force, including the use of napalm. Most fled to the Algerian desert.

Mauritania withdrew its claim to Western Sahara in 1979 and left. But Morocco stayed. The Saharawi people declared their own Republic in exile, which is now recognised by 60 other states. Yet the world still refuses to uphold international law and bring the Occupation to an end.

We are campaigning for self-determination for the people of Western Sahara.

We urge the UK government to:

  • press the Moroccan government to accept international law and repeated UN Security Council resolutions enabling the Saharawi people to vote on the independence of Western Sahara
  • press the Moroccan government to respect human rights in the occupied territories of Western Sahara
  • provide a clear and positive lead in the UN Security Council in support of the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination
  • stop all arms sales to Morocco, until there is a sustainable peace agreement for Western Sahara.

Latest news

"Lift the Ban" on Asylum Seekers Working

17 October 2018 - 11:45am

War on Want is a part of a coalition of organisations calling on the government to "Lift the Ban" on people seeking asylum working. 

Currently, people seeking asylum in the UK are effectively banned from working, which means they are dependent on asylum support whilst they wait for a decision on their asylum claim. People seeking asylum are given just £5.39 per day to meet all their essential living costs, including food, clothing, toiletries and transport and often the cost of their asylum application.

Read more

Indigenous Colombians threatened with death for opposition to mega-mining project as defenders visit UK

16 October 2018 - 11:00am

“Death to all these scum”: threats made by far-right paramilitaries promise to “clean” the region of indigenous Wayúu campaigning against mega-mining projects by UK-listed companies in their ancestral lands. Threats arrive just days before a week of action launches in London to highlight the issue. Delegates have arrived from the United States, Brazil, Chile and Colombia, including Wayúu community leader, Misael Socarras Ipuana.

Read more

Join the conversation

Mining companies claim to bring development to rural communities – but what kind of development and for who?… https://t.co/VwF4wVX7Hb 32 min 38 sec ago
"Preparing for the wholesale regulation of the mining industry will be key to reversing the climate meltdown...the… https://t.co/lCDGMLfH1N 1 hour 23 min ago
"According to the UN, we have 12 years to make good on our climate goals. But three gigantic mining corporations co… https://t.co/2ONs0f3HMi 3 hours 23 min ago