Tindouf (Algeria) - “We’ve been building a lot of new walls lately,” says Polisario Front commander Ahmed Salem as he drives his 4 X 4 across Tindouf in Western Algeria. But the newly introduced security measures may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Western Sahrawis
Salem Ahmed drives along the desert sand wall towards the entrance of Rabuni camp near Tindouf (about 700 km southeast of Moroccan capital Rabat). Rabuni is the nodal point for refugee camps in southern Algeria for the Sahrawis, as the local Western Sahara people are called.Just a few yards from where an excavator that works day and night, we are waved in through a checkpoint manned by men in camouflage from the Polisario, which heads the Saharwi independence movement. At only a few kilometres from the Mauritanian border, this sea of mud houses and corrugated iron roofs is “home” to over 200,000 individuals.
Western Sahara was the victim of a decolonisation process interrupted in 1976, when Spain – its former colonial power since the late 19th century- left that barren land in the hands of Morocco and Mauritania. After a ceasefire agreement in 1991, most of the territory which is greater than the size of Britain -including the entire Atlantic coastline – is under the control of Morocco. A small, largely uninhabited and economically useless desert portion remains under Polisario rule, strongly backed by Algeria.
This is where the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (RASD) declared its independence in 1976. Since then, the Polisario has won formal recognition for the RASD from 82 nations. (...)
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