Paroles non-dites du désert : Le conflit du Sahara Occidental

« Paroles non-dites du désert : Le conflit du Sahara Occidental » est le titre de cet article publié sur le site Think about it accompagné de magnifiques images des camps de réfugiés sahraouis en Algérie, sur la longue attente du peuple sahraoui, sur le répression exercé par la police dans les territoires sahraouis occupé par le Maroc. Bonne lecture!
DESERT’S UNSPOKEN WORDS: Western Sahara’s Conflict
Published 28th May 2010

“Refugee Camps are in a permanent oblivion situation. There is a constant repression, a quiet one”. Silvia Garcia talking referring to Western Sahara’s conflict. 
Western Sahara’s conflict is indeed confusing and, unfortunately not very well known. In this year, this confrontation turned 35 years old. It is here, in Sahara, where the war continues and hope seems to fade away.

-Western Sahara fell under Spanish rule in 1884, becoming a Spanish province in 1934.

-On October 1975 the International Court of Justice rejected territorial claims by Morocco and Mauritania. The court recognised the Saharawis’ right to self-determination and Spain agreed to organise a referendum.
-Spain never organized the referendum, until today.
-In November 1975, Moroccan King Hassan II ordered a « Green March » of over 300,000 Moroccans into the territory.
-Spain agreed to end colonial rule.
Status: Disputed territory claimed by Morocco and Saharawis seeking self-determination.
– Different NGOs such as Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch have declared different torture cases of Saharawis living under Moroccan government.
(Information based on the
BBC News website. )

« Smara, the biggest refugee camp in Tindouf province »
(Picture posted by Paulo Nunes dos Santos at

“What I try to do is to spread Saharawis cause”, told me some days ago Silvia Garcia Díaz, a journalism student at Madrid’s Universidad Complutense.

I met Silvia in one of our last classes of the course, as she started a discussion about Saharawis conflict. Afterwards I had a very interesting chat with her about this issue.

“A refugee camp is supposed to last 5 years or less, Saharawi people have been there for more than 30 years” she expressed, as the tone of her voice-raised immediately.

Silvia is sure that Spain is responsible for what is happening in Western Sahara, as she explained to me: “Western Sahara was once a Spanish colony, and when it got its independence, Spain did not finished a formal decolonization process. Now it is Morocco who has the power in this territory, even if the United Nations recognizes Spain as the responsible state”.

Silvia went to one of the refugee camps in Algeria, and she got to know the territory in a particular way: “Western Saharawis have been there since 1975, when they improvised their own refugee camps. I believe the most significative problem is that time passes by, and people forget. They only survive from humanitarian aid and nothing else”.

It is important to mention that there are some students from Western Sahara that have the opportunity to attend school abroad with financial aid, and they always come back to wait for the liberation of their own nation. “There are engineers, doctors, teachers who studied outside Algeria or Western Sahara, but they cannot work or practice what they studied inside the refugee camps”, she declared.


“My duty is to spread and talk about what is happening. They have been waiting 35 years for a resolution, and not because I go and meet them everything will change”, Silvia explained with a vigorous blow. “When you visit those camps you feel you do not know what to do. You create empathy with the people. Then they ask you just to spread the word. Do not let them forget we are waiting here. Peacefully”.

Silvia, next to other students that have had a closer approach to Saharawi refugee camps, formed the
“University Platform in favour of Western Sahara”, where students get together to organize events all over Madrid, and to spread Saharawis message. They feel it is their responsibility as Spanish citizens, in order to inform others what is happening in Western Sahara. 

Picture taken by Michelle Brehm from

Silvia finished this interview with a smile on her face, as she shared one last message not only for Spanish society, but for all nations in the word: “Let’s not forget that people will never be less important, as a fundamental beginning, like in Western Sahara’s conflict. We are responsible as people for what we do; we create politics, economics, etc. It is us (people) who create conflicts too”.
(Andrea Arzaba, May 2010)