26 Saharawi organisations ask Total to leave Western Sahara

While French oil company Total is exploring for oil off occupied Western Sahara, 26 Saharawi civil society organisations ask the company to cease its activities. “We, the signatories of this statement are against the presence of Total in Western Sahara. We urge the company stop all research and leave immediately”, they write in a statement issued yesterday.
Published: 08.02 - 2013 08:19Printer version    
Total has signed a reconnaissance contract with the Moroccan government for a massive block offshore occupied Western Sahara. The name of the block is Anzarane Offshore, and measures an astounding 100,926,70 sq.km.

But the rightful owners of the territory and its abundant resources, the Saharawi people, now ask the company to lay down its exploration work. In a statement signed by organisations representing the vast majority of Saharawi civil society groups in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, in the refugee camps in south-west Algeria and in Total’s home country France, they express their opposition to Total’s presence in their occupied land.

“Their presence and actions support the colonisation, and this is the opposite to what the UN aims to achieve through its Special Envoy HE Ambassador Christopher Ross”, the statement reads. “We, the signatories of this statement are against the presence Total in Western Sahara. We urge the company stop all research and leave immediately.”

“The company did not ask for permission, nor has it received permission, either from the liberation movement representing us before the United Nations, or from our part, civil society and Saharawi people.”

Two months ago, the exiled government of the Western Sahara Republic had protested Total's activities in Western Sahara, without their approval. WSRW is not aware of the government having received any reply.

In 2001, Total – then TotalFinaElf – signed a licence for the exact same area. This act promted the UN Security Council to ask its Legal Office for an opinion of the legality of the company's agreement with Morocco. The legal office concluded it would be in violation of international law if the exploration and exploitation continued in the disregard of the wishes and interests of the people of the territory.



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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