SAHRAWI PEOPLES -Freed by Spain in 1975, then exiled by Morocco in 1991
Smara, West Sahara
WHAT WE SAW & THE SAHRAWI PEOPLE’S HISTORY:
We couldn’t believe what we saw and learned upon arrival into the Sahrawi Peoples’ Refugee Camps of Tindouf, Algeria. Located in the inhospitable Sahel Desert Region of Northern Africa, we could barely breath upon our at the airport at 2:30am in the morning! In the middle of the night it was roughly 100 degrees Fahrenheit and during the day it ranges from 110-135 degrees, with dust winds, sand storms, and extreme sand reflective glare adding to the constant daily misery of life there.
Ironically, the Sahrawi People didn’t choose this lifestyle nor location, they were forced into exile during the Invasion and Occupation by Moroccan Forces from 1975-1991. To understand the hardship these Indigenous Sahrawi Peoples have suffered through, requires going back in history to 1884 when Spanish declared West Sahara a “protectorate state”. Spain occupied and colonized these people for roughly 100 years until 1975, when under pressure from the United Nations, Spain removed military forces and withdrew from colonial control of the region. The intention of the United Nations’ Referendums are to allow for Self-Determination and Self-Rule by local Indigenous Peoples, eliminating Colonialism and Imperialism by major super powers.
Unfortunately, this power vacuum did not last long with Morocco and Mauritania both invading West Sahara in 1975 with the intention of parceling up the region under side agreements of Morocco and Mauritania. Shortly after invasion, Mauritania “found religion” and withdrew forces, leaving only a war between the Indigenous Sahrawi Peoples supported by Algerian Forces against the Occupying Forces of Morocco. This ugly battle lasted until 1991, when through the United Nations intervention discussion commenced regarding the “Self-Governance” by the Sahrawi People through their democratic governmental agency known as the Polisario Front.
Smoke and mirrors of failed intentions by Morocco persisted with fake voter registrations towards the intent of self rule by local peoples in West Sahara, then gerry wandering and illegal population relocations, settlements and so forth persisted along with brutal acts of violence and torture, forced disappearances, intimidation and genocide until these beautiful Sahrawi Peoples had no were else to go and were forced by eviction from their homes westwards into the Sehal Desert Region. Upon exile, the Moroccan Forces built what is known today as the “Wall of Shame”, a 2,700 km north-south wall lined with roughly 7,000,000 land mines keeping the legal citizens of West Sahara forced out of their own country. Forced from modern cities and modern amenities of West Sahara cities, today the Sahrawi People live in canvas tents or mud and metal makeshift houses in inhumane conditions. Only recently with the generous support of the Algerian Government, electricity is coming to the camps after roughly 42 years of refugee camp life.
The Algerian Government acted as a good Samaritan allowing for a large swath of the southwestern portion of Algeria to be occupied by the Sahrawi Peoples in refugee camps. These camps are located in various locations in the Tindouf Region of Algeria depending upon where these wandering refugees ended up avoiding the house bombings, helicopter shootings which drove them into exile.
Today, there are estimates of roughly 150,000 exiled Sahrawi Peoples situated in these Refugee Camps depending 100% on the United Nations (“UN”) and the World Food Program (“WFP”) for survival since there is no food nor water in this Sehal Desert Region. Since 1991, these Sahrawi Peoples have been patiently presenting their case monthly and yearly at the United Nations upon what appears to be deaf ears. Large illegal commercial fishing contracts with the European Union Members along the West Sahara Coastline along with illegal mining contracts have camoufluged and appeased the international community into indifference to the real issue of Self-Determination and the true owners of the lands of West Sahara. As of our visit in June 2017, the Sahrawi Peoples have been patiently waiting for over 42 years for their promise land return.
Today, the major geopolitical support for the Sahrawi are the open minded African Countries along with the United Nations; however, certain superpowers within the UN Security Council have implemented veto powers due to their ulterior motives in the region. To this end, the Red Crescent of Algeria was established to provide a political and economic voice for shelter and food resources from the UN and WFP into these refugee camps. Beyond the huge human death toll, human rights violations and land confications, one must also consider this huge annual cost for shelter and food which is born at the international funding level at the UN/WFP. These avoidable costs are an indirect result from Colonialism residue in West Sahara along with the direct result from corruption and abuse of power caused by the greedy neighboring country of Morocco.
WHAT THE INTI RAYMI FUND DID:
After investigations, interviews and discussions in the camps, we realized that the most pressing issue for the Sahrawi Peoples is the patient, nonviolent political efforts to reclaim their rightfully owned land of West Sahara. Given the enormity of their mission and belief in the self-determination of the Sahrawi People, the Inti Raymi Fund elected to support the leadership of the Sahrawi People, who in turn will use these funds as necessary locally for survival and to continue their geopolitical fight for their homeland of West Sahara.
Start Date: June 2017
Completion Date: June 2017
Funded so far: $25,000.00 USD
Total Project: $25,000.00 USD
Lives Affected: 10,000