The CEO of Office Cherifien de Phosphates, Mostafa Terrab, sees it as his moral duty to employ Moroccan settlers in the occupied country. The paragraphs below are cut from Reuters, 18 October 2010.
"Critics say the firm should not be exploiting Western Sahara's mineral resources until the sovereignty issue is settled. Terrab rejected that, saying his firm was not in Western Sahara to pursue profits.
Company officials say the territory has less than 2 percent of Morocco's phosphate reserves, and that between 1976 and 2008 the firm made net losses there of 4.716 billion Moroccan dirhams, or about $580 million at the current exchange rate.
"If we stopped that operation, we could probably stop our losses at the same time but you would have 1700 families that would lose their livelihood," Terrab said. "So we see it as the opposite, we see it as our moral duty to be there.""
During the latest years, the production in the Bou Craa mine in Western Sahara has been between 3 and 4 million tonnes, of the total 30 million tonnes production of OCP in Morocco/Western Sahara combined. Almost all Saharawi phosphate workers have been replaced with Moroccan settlers after Morocco invaded the territory in 1975.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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