Western Sahara

1 October 2019News in Brief

In September, activists from Environmental Justice Ōtepoti blockaded a New Zealand fertiliser plant on the outskirts of the city of Dunedin.

They were protesting against the use of ‘blood phosphate’ from Western Sahara by Ravensdown, a farmers’ fertiliser co-operative.

Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. As the phosphate is extracted by a Moroccan state company, OCP, without the consent of the Sahrawi people, it cannot be legally traded.…

1 August 2019News in Brief

In July, French citizen Claude Mangin-Asfari was prevented for the fifth time from visiting her husband, the Sahrawi political prisoner Naâma Asfari. She flew into Casablanca on 8 July and was refused entry to Morocco – and put on the next plane back to Orly.

Naâma Asfari is serving 30 years in the notorious Kenitra prison in Morocco for helping to organise the Gdeim Izik protest camp in 2010.

Gdeim Izik grew to house more than 5,000 people nonviolently protesting…

1 June 2019News in Brief

British companies are involved in the illegal exploitation of phosphate from Western Sahara, a new report has revealed.

One of the resources that Morocco illegally exports from occupied Sahrawi territory is phosphate, the element used in artificial fertilisers. Western Sahara has been one of the world’s largest suppliers of high-quality phosphate rock.

Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975 and has illegally occupied the territory ever since. Western Sahara Resources…

1 April 2019News in Brief

The government of Morocco will go a long way to prevent Westerners hearing criticism of its policies in Western Sahara, which it has illegally occupied since 1975.

The government reportedly forced the Arab World Institute (AWI) in Paris to cancel a concert by Saharawi singer Aziza Brahim, due to sing on 10 March as part of an ‘Arabofolies’ festival dedicated to women and resistance.

According to RFI, the French equivalent to the BBC World Service radio station, Moroccan…

1 February 2019News in Brief

The European Union is undermining the Western Sahara peace process.

On 16 January, the European parliament agreed that a new trade deal between the EU and Morocco would extend to the resources of Western Sahara, despite a 2016 European court of justice (ECJ) ruling against such exploitation.

Green MEP, Heidi Hautala, a vice-president of the European parliament, denounced the deal.

Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. The ECJ…

1 December 2018News in Brief

More than 7,000 people marched for a free Western Sahara in an annual march in Madrid on 17 November.

While Western Sahara continues to be illegally occupied by neighbouring Morocco, it is illegal to extract resources from the territory (because there cannot be consent from the Saharawi people).

Irish/UK oil company San Leon Energy, registered on the Alternative Investment Market in London, is the only company to have drilled onshore for oil in Western Sahara during 43…

1 October 2018News in Brief

Geoex Ltd, a geological services company based in Kent, has been helping Moroccan state oil company OHNYM survey for gas and oil off the coast of Western Sahara. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, making such exploration illegal as it takes place without the consent of the Saharawi people.

Western Sahara Resource Watch wrote to Geoex in July urging it to stop acquiring or selling Saharawi seafloor data .

(Seismic study group TGS-Nopec…

1 August 2018News in Brief

Regular readers will know that Polisario, the liberation movement for Western Sahara (illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975), managed to get a cargo ship full of phosphate rock (illegally mined in the territory) impounded by a court in South Africa last year.

We now know that the ship, the NM Cherry Blossom, will no longer carry phosphate from Western Sahara. Western Sahara Resource Watch calculates that the company that charters the ship lost £3.5m because of the year…

1 June 2018News in Brief

In May, a Moroccan state mining company, OCP, bought back phosphate that it had illegally mined in, and shipped from, Western Sahara. Western Sahara has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.

The 50,000 tonnes of phosphate rock was seized in South Africa by court order a year ago (PN 2606 – 2607). It was put up for auction back in March, with a starting price of $1 million. The proceeds were due to go to Western Sahara’s national liberation movement, the Polisario Front.…

1 April 2018News in Brief

On 21 March, the European Union commission announced that it still wants to apply an EU-Morocco fisheries agreement to the waters of Western Sahara, despite two EU court of justice rulings that this would be illegal.

On 27 February, the court of justice ruled that the fisheries agreement would only be legal if it was not applied to Western Sahara, which has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975. This was in line with a previous decision in December 2016 that no EU trade…

1 February 2018News in Brief

PN also keeps watch on the struggle for freedom in Western Sahara, illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975.

Solidarity campaigners has been targeting foreign companies involved in the illegal exploitation of Saharawi resources. In the last few months, several have pulled out.

The giant Swiss/British multinational Glencore finally left on 4 January (it had been exploring for oil). The Canadian firm Nutrien announced on 25 January that it would no longer buy…

1 October 2017News in Brief

On 6 September, the European court of justice (ECJ) heard oral arguments on EU imports from Morocco of goods originating from, or processed in, Western Sahara.

Morocco has illegally occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and exports stolen Sahrawi resources including vegetables, fish, solar energy and phosphate. It has also licensed oil exploration.

The ECJ case was brought by the UK Western Sahara Campaign (WSC), which brought a case that the British government was…

1 August 2017News in Brief

On 13 July, the occupied people of Western Sahara won a major victory when the Moroccan state company OCP dropped its claim to 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock mined in the territory.

The rock was on board the NM Cherry Blossom, which was detained in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, on 1 May, on its way to New Zealand. The Sahrawi liberation movement Polisario argued the phosphate had been illegally removed as the operation did not have the consent of the people of Western Sahara.…

1 June 2017News in Brief

On 18 May, cargo ship Ultra Innovation was stopped going through the Panama canal while carrying 55,000 tonnes of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara to Canada.

A few days earlier, the NM Cherry Blossom, carrying 50,000 tonnes of Sahrawi phosphate to New Zealand, was halted in South Africa by a local court.
These were (perhaps temporary) legal victories for Western Sahara’s national liberation movement.

Polisario argued in court that the exports…

1 April 2017News in Brief

Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy has been carrying out more seismic studies with its partner Kosmos Energy off the coast of occupied Western Sahara, says Western Sahara Resources Watch (WSRW).

The territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco since 1975, and drilling for oil in Western Sahara is illegal without the consent of the Saharawi people.

WSRW has also drawn attention to UK-French ‘ethical investment’ company Vigeo Eiris, which has certified green bonds for two…