The global match-maker of private accommodation has delisted providers in Israeli settlements and Crimea, but seem to apply different standards to similar situations of occupation. Saharawis object.
The news that Airbnb last month removed from its website all listings located in illegal Israeli settlements was widely covered in international media. The decision was made prior to the publication of a Human Rights Watch report that was to be published the following day. See press release from Airbnb [or download].
Following the news, Times of Israel quoted an Airbnb official saying that “In the statement we issued on Monday, we noted that we have developed a framework for evaluating how we should treat listings in occupied territories around the world. Western Sahara is one example of a place where we will use this framework,” the official stated.
The problem of Airbnb's litings have not yet been settled. As of 8 December 2018 there were 51 listings in the town of Dakhla, nine in El Aaiún and one in Smara, all on occupied land.
The issue is controversial, as the providing of listings contributes to the settlement, colonisation and occupation of the territory. Only a few months ago, representatives of the Saharawi reported a tourist operator to French police for violating French laws of colonisation . Near all of the hosts in the town of Dakhla mention the easy access to the controversial Moroccan-foreign tourist kitesurfing sector by the beach. The sector largely employs settlers, and the representatives of Western Sahara have not given Airbnb permission to market listings in the occupied territory.
However, the problem of Airbnb's listings in Western Sahara is even bigger than this:
The representation of the people of Western Sahara has lodged complaint against the banks BNP Paribas, Société Générale, Crédit Agricole, the insurance company Axa Assurance, airline Transavia and tourist agency UCPA over the accusation of colonisation.
A subsidiary of the US company has signed a contract with the Moroccan king's energy firm for a large wind farm in Western Sahara, consistently referring to the location as part of Morocco.
The Mexican imports of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara is picking up pace. New images from Mexico today show a second vessel offloading - while a third is on its way.
Here are all vessels that transported petroleum products from Spanish refineries into occupied Western Sahara last year.