In protest of the ongoing exploitation of Western Sahara’s natural resources, and their dire socio-economic situation, hundreds of Saharawi in the occupied territories have left their homes in the cities to live in tents in the desert.
Published 15 October 10
Since 4 days, over 1.000 Saharawi in the occupied territories of Western Sahara have left their homes in El Aaiún, Boujdour and Smara, to go and live in tents in the zone of Lemseyed (in Gdeim Izik). They say they’re doing this as a peaceful protest against the Moroccan occupation of their homeland and the ongoing exploitation of the territory's’s natural resources.
Sources say that about 1.100 individuals are now living in approximately 150 tents. Other sources cite up to 400 tents. As a sign of support, the former phosphate workers, who lost their jobs in Fos Bou Craa when Morocco took over the company, have visited the camps.
This exodus has already elicited a response from the Moroccan authorities. Since 12 October, 15 armed trucks and 35 vehicles of the auxiliary forces have been sent in. Additionally, 2 army-helicopters take turns in surveillancing the protest-camps. See footage from the Moroccan police surrounding the camps here
The Saharawi people in the occupied territories of Western Sahara have become a marginalised minority in their own country: they are outnumbered by Moroccan settlers who are provided jobs through the exploitation of Western Sahara’s abundant natural resources. Meanwhile the Saharawi see their most basic human rights continuously violated by the Moroccan occupying regime, in a climate of impunity.