Sahrawi people feel the world has forgotten them: Jantjies

12 Dec 2013 14:10pm
By Sawi Lutibezi
ALGIERS, 12 DEC (NAMPA) – Women who attended the African Conference of Solidarity with the Sahrawian people have called upon the African Union (AU) and the United Nations (UN) to help speed up the decolonising of Western Sahara from Morocco.
This was the first time the conference took place. It was held in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria from 06 to 08 December 2013, and drew attention to the situation in that country.
The governance of Western Sahara is disputed by Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), but the majority of it is occupied by Morocco.
Speaking to Nampa in an interview here about the hopes and aspirations of the Sahrawi people, the executive secretary of the Pan-African Women’s Organisation: Southern Africa Regional Office (PAWO-SARO), Mildred Jantjies said the people of Sahrawi feel as if the African continent and the world have forgotten about them.
She formed part of a Namibian delegation which was in Algeria from 06 to 09 December to hand over humanitarian aid to women and children living in the Sahrawi refugee camps.
Jantjies said these sentiments prevailed at a similar conference held last year where the people themselves indicated that it seems as if the world is focused on conflict in countries such as South Sudan and Syria, but are not standing united with the Sahrawi people in their struggle for freedom.
“These people are dying from inside for the independence of their country. Even children who were born in the camps are longing to go back home,” she stressed.
Jantjies said during the conference, the women attending it called on all peace-loving people to support the efforts of the international movement of solidarity with the struggle of the Sahrawi people.
The conference also drew attention to the situation in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, where Morocco is allegedly committing gross violations of human rights.
Jantjies said they learned during their brief stay at the camps that people are being violated, and especially women are allegedly being assaulted.
The conference also noted, with concern, the alleged ongoing plundering of natural resources of Western Sahara by the Moroccan regime and the crime against humanity represented by the ‘wall of shame’ which divides the land and the people of Western Sahara.
The ‘wall of shame’, as it is referred to by the Sahrawis, is a military barrier erected by Morocco which separates Sahrawi refugees in Algeria from their families in Morocco.
The conference further called for the establishment of a United Nations (UN) mechanism to monitor human rights in the occupied Western Sahara.
Lastly, the conference chose Namibia as the host of the next edition of the event, which will be held in December 2014.
On her part, the Secretary of the Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC), Petrina Haingura said the people of Western Sahara have not been free for over 40 years.
“The fact that the people of Western Sahara have borne the brunt of decades of oppression raises the troubling question of whether the international community would have been mute if the oppression was meted out to a western country,” she said.
Haingura, who formed part of the delegation, called on the Afrin Union (AU) member states under the auspices of the UN General Assembly to convene an emergency meeting to practically compel the UN Security Council to take decisive action against Morocco and demand the immediate independence of the people of Western Sahara.