By Molly Dietrich
The last colony in Africa was not conquered by Europeans, the invasion was by another African country. About 80% of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), formally known as Western Sahara, went under Moroccan control after the Spanish withdrew from the area in 1976. The Sahrawi Polisario front fought for their land through guerilla warfare until a ceasefire in 1991. The conflict is physically illustrated by the “sand berm” or wall built by the Moroccans that stretches 1,700 miles across the length of SADR.
Today, people of SADR are experiencing human rights violations including the torture of Sahrawi detainees and violence against Sahrawi women. Sahrawi refugees have taken shelter in neighboring countries – 165,000 Sahrawi people are in Algerian camps, and 26,000 are in Mauritanian camps. This is a significant amount of SADR’s population which was 587,000 in 2016. The living conditions for these refugees are terrible.
Although the Sahrawi struggle has lasted about 40 years there is a newly ignited international awareness with the admittance of Morocco into the African Union (AU) this January. The conflict is at the top of the AU’s agenda and international powers are pushing for a solution. Unfortunately, Morocco continues to refuse to recognize SADR. Although there is currently a ceasefire, tension is high and Sahrawis believe there is potential for a renewed conflict.
The United States currently supports the Sahrawis in their fight for self-determination.
UniversalGiving stands in solidarity with the Sahrawi people and we ask you to remember how important it is to support emergency response efforts around the world.
“The World Factbook.” Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency, n.d. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.