24 Oct, 2014
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Chairman's Letter

Chairmans LetterAn introductory letter from the Organization for Statehood & Freedom Chairman.

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Building A State   “We are not just building a democracy; we are building a state. We are educating a people who have never had this type of government before.” (SADR)

- Malainin Lakhal, Secretary General of Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union [UPES]
Fighting With Heart   “We are a small nation, but when you are fighting with your heart, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose, except your chains.”

- Malainin Lakhal, Secretary General of Saharawi Journalists and Writers Union [UPES]
The Struggle   The current status quo – called a situation of “neither war nor peace” by the Saharawis – is unsustainable

Introduction

In the northwest corner of Africa, one of the world’s longest-running, yet most-forgotten conflicts continues over the continent’s last colony: the Western Sahara. The Western Sahara is a territory of largely desert land about the size of the U.S. state of Colorado. It is home to large phosphate reserves, rich fishing waters, and potential oil deposits. It is also home to the Saharawi people, who have been struggling against the Kingdom of Morocco militarily and diplomatically for over 35 years to gain self-determination and freedom for their homeland. Tens of thousands of Saharawis wage the now “peaceful” war from refugee camps in neighboring Algeria under the leadership of the Polisario Front, while thousands more oppose the occupation  from within the Moroccan-occupied territories of the Western Sahara.

Refugee CampMorocco has advanced an autonomy plan for the Western Sahara, rooted in its de facto control over the region since the 1980s. The Saharawis, however, refuse to accept any solution that does not offer a free and fair referendum – based on a United Nations census – that includes the option of Western Saharan independence. While the conflict, now in its third decade, drags on, over 150,000 Saharawis continue living in inhospitable conditions while thousands more suffer at the hands of the Moroccan security forces. As long asthe conflict endures, stability will continue to evade the area of North Africa known as the Maghreb. At stake in the Western Saharan conflict are the very principles of self-determination, statehood, and freedom upon which the United States and the United Nations were founded.

 

A young refugee girl fetches water for her family

 

Fourth-grade students in a school in the Smara camp

 

Volunteers from a local youth organization rebuild houses after a spring thunderstorm

Hundreds of foreigners gather in front of the Moroccan military wall as part of an annual protest

 

Two refugee brothers for an independent Western Sahara

 

 

Polisario's fighters in the 1970's

 

A refugee family relaxes in their house in the Smara camp

Saharawi preschoolers in the February 27th camp

 

Sunset over the SADR Ministry of Information

 

Saharawi farmer outside of Dakhla camp

Refugees calling for Western Saharan independence

Smara camp from a hillside

A refugee proudly displays his SADR flag

February 27th camp in May

Central market in the Smara camp at noon

A Saharawi journalist votes