WESTERN SAHARA - NEWS

WEEKS 07-08 : 12.02.-25.02.2006

original french

 

SADR

11.02.06, Natural catastrophe
"Torrential rain, not seen in the region since 1994, struck the Saharawi refugee camps, falling without stopping, from Thursday 09 until the early hours of Saturday 11, causing material damage and several injuries. Over 50 per cent of the buildings in the camps were affected". [
statement from the Saharawi minister for the interior]
The President of the Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz, receives a large Algerian delegation, dispatched to the spot to inquire into the situation and bring aid and support from Algeria.

12.02.06
The Saharawi Red Crescent (CRS) launches an urgent appeal "to all international governments and organisations". According to first estimates made by CRS teams, over 12,000 families, or at least 60,000 people are without shelter, the floods carried off the few possessions and food stores that they had. The CRS has no stock of tents having not received any in 2005.
Special meeting of the Saharawi Council of Ministers and setting up of a crisis group of the government. Emergency aid is organised.

The Algerian army hurried to the spot with specialist medical teams as well as emergency aid. Eight large cargo planes brought material for the population of Tindouf and the Saharawi refugee camps. Similar humanitarian aid has been transported from the towns of El Oued, Setif and Bechar. Several teams from the Algerian fire service travelled to the area. Algeria provided 4,000 tents, 10,000 blankets, large quantities of medication and various food supplies.

An emergency team bringing together the CRS, WFP and UNHCR is put in place.
The UNHCR with the other UN agencies organises emergency aid.

13.02.06
The Spanish Agency of international cooperation in collaboration with the autonomous communities of Spain and Spanish NGOs active in the camps charter three planes to transport material. The European Commission grants a sum of 900,000 euros, the Swiss government 200,000 dollars, the Andalusian Agency of cooperation 350,000 euros for emergency aid and reconstruction. Subsequently many NGOs and government institutions join the ranks and committees of support in Europe and around the world open appeals to collect funds.

15.02.06
The Spanish Red Cross sends three plane-loads of aid to a value of 70,000 euros. The World Food Program (WFP) draws up an initial emergency plan for one month. The Italian government decides to "release emergency aid" amounting to 85,000 euros. The UNHCR announces that "an air lift is being set up to transport light tents and blankets, mattresses and plastic sheeting from a regional depot in Jordan." The UNHCR also sent an emergency team, a planning expert and a specialist in water distribution.

17.02.06
President Abdelaziz received the Algerian minister for Employment and, from the national solidarity movement, Djamel Ould Abbés, on a visit of solidarity to the Saharawi refugees. The Algerian minister declared that his country "will support the Saharawi government to the very end to overcome" the consequences of the diluvian rain. Representatives of the North American embassy and Switzerland, as well as representatives of WFP, UNHCR, ECHO and the Spanish ministry for cooperation took part in the visit.

The arrival of the first cargo plane from the HCR. Portugal, France, Italy, Belgium and the USA offered their logistic assistance. Aid from the Algerian government and neighbouring Algerian towns and from the local Algerian population continue to arrive, as well as that of the Spanish Red Cross.

19.02.06: The United States makes a gift of 50,000 dollars to the Saharawi refugees.
21 02.06: The fifth plane chartered by the Spanish Red Cross arrives in Tindouf.
24.02.06: Another plane from the Spanish agency of international cooperation brings medication, food and sanitation equipment. The Norwegian churches with the support of their government transport aid worth 350,000 euros including 600 tents, to the camps.
25.02.06: A team of doctors and surgeons leaves Andalusia to help in the refugee camps.
This list is not exhaustive.
More information, appeals, photos, video...see:
--> arso
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Reliefweb (UN)
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Sahara-Info
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Sahara update

OCCUPIED TERRITORIES AND SOUTH MOROCCO

09.- 10.02.06, El Ayoun
Several people appear before the examining magistrate: Brahim Dahane; Sidi Sayli; El idrissi Sidi Bedde; Hadi Maouloud; Njourni Baha; Chayne Med ; Cheikh Amaydane; Ait Abaylou Brahim; Leghzal Taher; Malaaynin Tergui, Moustapha Labras; Brahim Labras; Eddaha Tanji; El Bachir .

09.02.06
Five Moroccan soldiers, Saharawis enrolled against their will into the Royal Armed Forces, were intercepted by border control guards near Merkala (Tindouf). These young soldiers had deserted their post and crossed the Algerian border to join the Saharawi Army of Liberation. [
Le Soir d'Algérie]

11.02.06, Boujdour
Peaceful demonstration in the centre of the town. Saharawi citizens carrying SADR flags were violently dispersed by the forces of repression. Numerous people injured, three young Saharawis arrested including El Hafed Abdelmoulay ould El Hafed (El-Hafidi Abelmoula), with head wounds. The families of the arrested Saharawis organised a sit-in outside the police station.

12.02.06, Smara
Numerous peaceful demonstrations take place in different quarters of the town on the arrival of Saharawi families from the refugee camps under the family exchange visit program.

13.02.06, Boujdour
Former political prisoner, El Hafed Abdelmoulay ould El Hafed was presented to the examining magistrate and imprisoned in the Black Prison of El Ayoun. A new independence demonstration left the high school, Lycée Omar Bnou Al-Khattab, which other Saharawis joined, brandishing Saharawi flags. Violent response from the forces of repression.

13.02.06, El Ayoun
Moroccan mobile force units (CMI) backed up by GUS groups and soldiers continue to patrol the principle boulevards and avenues. Many educational establishments, in particular, lycée Lamsalla, have been strictly controlled by the Moroccan police for over three months, who do not hesitate to attack young Saharawis even within school premises, directed in the majority of cases by the Moroccan heads and supervision staff who collaborate with the police and the Moroccan DST services. Arrest and mistreatment of Saharawi citizens, Ahmed Salem Mohamed Salem and Khayrou Mahmoud Elkharrashi, arrested for several hours.

15.02.06, Tan Tan
The Saharawi population of the town of Tan Tan published a new statement in which it calls for the immediate release of Souwayehel Mohamed, a Saharawi citizen arrested and incarcerated on 7 February last. He is a close relative of the late Lekhlifi Abba Cheikh, killed by a Moroccan officer, Hmed Naji. The funeral of Lekhlifi Abba Cheikh has not yet taken place and the Moroccan officer has been moved to Agadir.

15.02.06, El-Ayoun
Four Saharawi citizens were arrested: Rguibi Hayoune, Salam Ezzerwali, M'barek Fahmi and Elhairesh Mohamed. After their release, they claimed to have been the object of bad treatment.

15.02.06, Dakhla
The Moroccan police arrested the Saharawi college student Edday Dayda Larabass outside his house in Ghraybilate quarter, he underwent bad treatment for over two hours in the police station.

16.02.06, Smara
Ouzmani Laoulad ould Eman, nicknamed Loud, was sentenced to one year in prison and a fine of 5000 DH and imprisoned in El Ayoun's Black Prison. He had been arrested on 5 February in Smara for having waved a Saharawi flag. In his testimony, he affirms having been tortured and having suffered an injection to calm him and transport him.

1602.06, El Ayoun
A unit of the Moroccan forces arrested a Saharawi citizen, Ahmoudi Hammad.

16.02.06, Guelmime
Moroccan intelligence agents abducted a Saharawi citizen, Moukhtar Benjelloune at his place of work which is a cyber-café.

17.02.06, Dakhla/Goulimine /El Ayoun
A human rights activist, Aoulad Chikh Mahjoub, arrested in Dakhla outside the office of the Moroccan delegation for maritime fishing by five agents, was taken outside the town and savagely tortured. Abandoned there, he was driven to hospital by a passer-by, where they refused to treat him. A complaint was lodged. Mahjoub's head had been seriously injured during a demonstration on 27 June 2005 and during clashes on the night of 3-4 February last.
Sahel Lamine, arrested in Goulimine on 6 February, was tortured before being transferred to Inzegane prison. Little Butabaa Mahfud, 12 years, was arrested and mistreated in the station of the criminal investigation police for three hours by Ichi Aboulhasan.

18.02.06
Report from El Ayoun by Florence Beaugé, Le Monde, Paris: "In Western Sahara despair grows from the absence of a political solution". [
French]

17.02.2006,  El Ayoun: Plainclothed police arrest an 18 year old known as Ali Med Baha Med Taglabout, outside a teleshop at 9pm in El Ayoun, they took him to the PJ where he underwent a heavy interrogation before being released around 2am the next morning.

He was again called to the PJ, with his father Med Baha Med Taglabout, 57 years, retired from the O.C.P., and was harassed in front of his father. He was being taken to task for: meeting of young people with incitation to riot, preparation of flags for demonstrators, preparation of stones on top of the house to throw them on agents of order.
Before being released Ali was faced with a choice of accepting a card of national promotion and stopping his activities or going before the courts and prison. He makes the first choice.

20.02.06, Dakhla
Young El Luali Yekber Hasana Barray, 17 years, was abducted in the street and taken to the police station where he was tortured, insulted and threatened with a pistol by Hariz El Aarbi, responsible for regional security, infamous for his brutality. He was subsequently taken out of the town, mistreated, stripped of his possessions and abandoned there with fractures to his ribs and head wounds.

20.02.06
Morocco mistreats and tortures minors
The international Secretariat of the World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) launches an appeal [
French]: Exaction enfants. Usage excessif de la force policière / Détention arbitraire / Disparition présumée [Excessive use of police force / Arbitrary detention / Presumed disappearance]. Cas MAR 150206 / MAR 150206.CC

21.02.06, Smara: 7 Saharawi citizens were arrested after a big peaceful demonstration was organised in the Tan Tan quarter by Saharawi citizens carrying SADR flags, the majority being women and children. The Moroccan forces of repression attacked the peaceful crowd causing many injuries to women and children. Three young Saharawi men were arrested: Ahmed Haddi, Eddaoudi Ambarek, Chiekh Hammadi, Frahani Lahbib, Azzaz el Ouali, El Mousaoui, Lakhdr Ambare.

22.02.06, forbidden journey
A delegation of parliamentarians from the Balearic Islands, who wanted to travel to Western Sahara, was prevented from embarking on a Moroccan plane in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, on the order of Moroccan authorities. [
El Pais]

REFERENDUM

13.02.06
"The search for a solution (to the conflict in Western Sahara) must be done within the framework of the resolutions of the UN Security Council", the British minister for foreign affairs, Mr Jack Straw, said in Fez in the course of a visit of several hours to Morocco.

15.02.06
Iran only sees the solution to the conflict of Western Sahara in the context of the United Nations, the Iranian Ambassador to Algeria, Houssein Waleh, declared in an interview to the Algerian daily, Al Massa.

16.02.06
Morocco's proposal to offer autonomy status to the Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty "would be a good solution" for the conflict of the Sahara, declared the president of the Foreign Affairs committee to the Congress of Spanish deputies (lower house of parliament), Josep Antoni Duran i Lleida.

18.02.06
In a written declaration responding to declarations by Josep Antoni Duran Lleida, Mrs Larabas, responsible for External Relations on the Saharawi National Council (parliament), affirmed that the Parliament "is indignant at these statements, contrary to international legality and to the principle of a referendum of self-determination". [
SPS]

17.02.06
The President of the African Union Commission, Mr. Alpha Omar Konaré, received in Addis Abeba, Mr. Mhamed Khadad, member of the National Secretariat of the Polisario Front and emissary of the President of the Republic. President Konaré reaffirmed "the position of the African Union, which considers that the solution to the conflict in Western Sahara rests in the strict respect of the inalienable right of the Saharawi people to self-determination in accordance with international law and the relevant resolutions of the UN and the African Union".

UN
The personal representative of the UN Secretary General for Western Sahara, Van Walsum, was received on the 9th in Madrid and on 14 in Paris by the respective ministers of foreign affairs and at the same period in Addis Abeba by the President of the African Commission.

NATURAL RESOURCES

13.02.06
Launching of the campaign: Fish Elsewhere - No EU Fishing in Western Sahara
Campaigners from 19 European countries came together to stop the European Union ratifying an Agreement which will violate international law and see European boats fishing in the waters of Africa's last colony. [
Press release ] [comuniqué]  [deutsch]

17-02-2006, EU
The consequences of the EU's fishing agreement with Morocco, which includes Saharawi territorial waters, have been the subject of discussion between experts within the Commission, at the request of the governments of Britain, Sweden and Denmark. The Commission considers that these waters are under Moroccan administration and that the Saharawi people will benefit also from the new agreement. The UN declared it clearly illegal to exploit natural resources of Western Sahara.

MOROCCO

22.02.06
Sbai Labbas, a doctor of Saharawi origin, with dual Swiss and Moroccan nationality, who was arrested on 02 February and sentenced to 6 months' imprisonment in Zagora (see weeks
05-06), saw his term reduced to 3 months on appeal. He does not accept this unjust sentence and is on hunger and thirst strike. One can sign a petition for him and find more info on the weblog.
Doctor Sbai is the son of the late Mohamed Cheij Sid Labbas Sbai, an eminent resister of French colonialism. Dr Sbai studied in Morocco, then in Russia, afterwards working in Switzerland. He returned to the town of his birth, Mhamid el Ghezlan, in order to develop tourist and cultural projects and is very active in the field of heritage preservation of the region.

19.02.06
The king of Morocco is carrying out an official visit to Gambia, the Congo and DRC.

ALGERIA

11-13.02.06, Donald Rumsfeld's first visit to the Maghreb
The American Secretary of State started a working visit in Tunisia, continued in Algeria and Morocco. According to journalist sources, the American Minister of Defense wants to strengthen military cooperation with the countries of the Maghreb as well as the fight against "terrorism" and organised crime. Rumsfeld took part previously in Sicily in a two-day meeting of NATO Defense ministers, in which most of the Maghreb ministers of defence also took part. Rumsfeld's visit was preceded by a few days by that of Robert S. Mueller, head of the FBI.
The United States are maintaining a military base as well as a listening station near Tamanrasset which allows them to intercept all telephone communications, both fixed line and mobile, as well as satellite and fax in sub-saharan Africa.

Quotation: «Rumsfeld was asked his level of concern about Western Sahara harboring extremist groups. He said "there are in my view other areas more likely," [...]» [Reuters/ Washington Post, 13.02.06] [ Marruecos no logra que EE UU incluya al Polisario en la lista de terroristasPedro Canales, La Razon, 19.02.056]

19-24.02.06
An international seminar on the fight against terrorism in the Maghreb and in the Sahel-Saharan region was organised in Algiers, with the participation of eight African countries (without Morocco) and American and European partners (without Spain). This meeting is organised by the African Centre for study and research on terrorism (CAERT) and the Center for Strategic Studies on Africa (CESA) of the American department of Defense. [see the
website] and [La Razon]

SOLIDARITY

11.02.06, Spain
The IXth caravan from Castille y Léon of humanitarian aid for the Saharawi people left Valladolid with 120 tonnes of diverse products.

20.02.06, Cuba
Bachir Mustapha Sayed met Saharawi students on the Island of Youth. 600 Saharawis are at present studying in Cuba. The Saharawi minister for Education declared that in 30 years over 2,000 young Saharawis have obtained a university degree in Cuba and the same number have been trained as technicians.

COMING UP...

27.02.1975 - 27.02.2006
Manifestations take place in Europe in occasion of the 30th anniversary of SADR.

Acto de Solidaridad con las Mujeres Saharauis.
Tendrá lugar en Madrid, en la sede de la Sociedad General de Autores y Editores (SGAE), Calle Fernando VI, número 4, martes día 7 de Marzo a las 19 horas y en cual se proyectará un documental sobre las mujeres saharauis titulado „La Rosa del Desierto". El acto estará presidido por: Cristina del Valle: Presidenta de la Plataforma de Mujeres Artistas   Contra la Violencia de Género. Zahra Ramdán, Responsable de Relaciones Internacionales de la Unión Nacional de Mujeres Saharauis, y Carmen Díaz-Llanos, Presidenta de la Asociación de Amigos del Pueblo Saharaui de Madrid.

INTERNET

30ème anniversaire de la RASD - page spéciale
30th anniversary of SADR -
special page
30º aniversario de la RASD -
pagina especial

 

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