EU funded programme exits occupied Western Sahara

The Erasmus+ financed youth exchange that was supposed to take place in Dakhla, occupied Western Sahara, has reportedly been moved.

21 December 2023

In January 2024, youth from 6 different EU countries were supposed to travel to occupied Western Sahara as part of a youth exchange financed by the European Commission’s Erasmus+ programme. Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) wrote about the problematic initiative last week. 

A ‘story’ post on Instagram by the Spanish association Proactive Future, published on 21 December at 13:30, tells that the programme now has been moved away from Western Sahara. 

“Due to being an illegally occupied territory, after meeting with other associations and the European Commission, we have implemented a change of location”, the organisation states on its Instagram. 

“We in Proactive Future show our support to the Saharawi people. [...] We stand by the Saharawi people’s right to self-determination and the total condemnation of the brutal occupation”, it stated. 

It also recommended its followers to read up on the conflict from resources online, including the Instagram account of Frente Polisario in Spain. 

Proactive Future is the association that has the lead in the project. 

There have been flaws in the marketing of the programme vis-à-vis the applicants. None of the partners of the initiative have referred to the territory as in Western Sahara, three of them labeled it as being in the neighbouring country, Morocco. WSRW wrote the associations earlier this month, and Members of the European Parliament addressed the European Commissioner for Education. 

“We commend Proactive Future and the other organisations for taking the matter seriously and making the right decision at such a last minute. The strong support shown by Proactive Future to the Saharawi people will surely be very well received among the Saharawis”, stated Erik Hagen of Western Sahara Resource Watch.

Already on 19 December, it was known to WSRW that the Italian partner of the programme had withdrawn from the project. Its Facebook and Instagram posts calling for applicants for the programme were removed on that same day. 

“WSRW calls on the European Commission to ensure that future EU funding, including through Erasmus+, is not used to normalise and legitimise the occupation of Western Sahara”, Hagen stated.

As of 21 December 2023 at 14:55, changes have not yet been implemented on the social media channels or websites of the other partners in the programme.  


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