Tags / sovereignty
Sun, sand and patience abound for natives of the Western Sahara, many of whom have survived the last 38 years in the Algerian hamada thanks to international aid. In 1976, the independence movement, the Polisario Front, proclaimed the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (RASD) in what is today called the Western Sahara just as Spain, the former colonial power, withdrew from the territory. This land has since been the subject of dispute between Mauritania and Morocco, the country which occupies almost all of it to date.
On 12 January 2007, Nicaragua joined the African Union and the 45 world nations which recognise the sovereignty of RASD. No European country either recognises the RASD as a sovereign entity, or the annexation carried out by Morocco. Meanwhile, 260,000 inhabitants of the Western Sahara are currently living in an effective no-man’s land claimed by Morocco. There, local institutions have no power and are not given any public assistance.
Neighbouring Algeria, a firm defender of Western Saharan independence, provides refuge to 160,000 Sahrawis in the desert surrounding the Algerian province of Tindouf. Isolated from the rest of the world, they depend on what the European NGO lorries take from the port of Oran to the south of the country. Here, a generation raised abroad is beginning to question how long it will be before a referendum is held. Many of these young men do not rule out returning to arms.
ARTICLE UPON REQUEST
Soldiers line up in rank and file near Tifariti, in the Moroccan "buffer zone."
Bir Lehlu is a village in the part of the Western Sahara claimed by Morocco.
A soldier waves back to his colleagues during a counter terrorism patrol in the Western Sahara desert.
Counter terrorism patrols are carried out regularly in the areas of the Western Sahara where Moroccan-claimed land borders Algeria and Mauritania.
A decorative light in the shape of the Western Sahara hangs in the desert near Bir Lehlu.
Containers full of aid are lined up in the desert near the Rabouni refugee camp.
A man stands beside his broken-down car in the Rabouni camp.
A woman dresses in festive attire and waves a Western Sahara flag during a rally for the independence of the Western Sahara.
A Saharawi military parade is under way in the desert near the 27 February refugee camp.
Women join the parade in support of independence for the Western Sahara.
A soldier carries a SPLA flag near the Rabouni camp near Tindouf, Algeria.
The Smara refugee camp in southern Algeria is home to thousands of Western Saharan refugees.
Women sift through clothing at a street market in the Smara refugee camp.