Today’s proclamation by President Donald Trump asserting the sovereignty of Morocco over Western Sahara undermines ongoing UN led peace processes and denies the right to self-determination of the Sahrawi people.
Oxfam in Algeria Country Director, Haissam Minkara, said:
“The implications of this move – ironically made on Human Rights Day – by the US Government will be severe. Only one month ago we witnessed the first collapse of the ceasefire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario in 29 years – the peace process is moving backwards, not forwards.
The conflict has had devastating humanitarian consequences. Over 173,000 Sahrawis live in the Sahara Desert near Tindouf, Algeria, and are almost entirely dependent upon aid to survive. As this year marks 45 years of their displacement, Sahrawi refugees should be hopeful for an opportunity to assert control over their lives, rather than fearing for their futures once again.
Oxfam is calling for the immediate appointment of a new UN Personal Envoy for Western Sahara without any further delay. The failure by the UN Secretary-General to appoint an Envoy for 18 months has left a significant gap in diplomatic leadership and has allowed for the serious deterioration of the situation. Restarting the political negotiations process is essential for regional stability and is the best way to avoid any further escalation of the conflict.”
The inalienable right to self-determination for all peoples is enshrined in the UN Charter. Together with other bedrock principles of international law, it must be the basis of international efforts to achieve peace in the region. When President-Elect Biden takes office, he must abandon the Trump administration’s approach and fully embrace this international effort.
Notes to editors
- Since the outbreak of the Western Sahara conflict in 1975, Algeria has hosted a proportion of the Sahrawi population in refugee camps near the city of Tindouf, with the majority dependent on humanitarian aid to sustain basic needs such as access to food, water, and shelter.
- Oxfam has been active in the camps since 1975, and over the years, our work has evolved from emergency aid to the multifaceted provision of humanitarian support, resilience programming, and capacity building activities.
- For more on Oxfam in the Sahrawi refugee camps: https://www.oxfam.org/en/what-we-do/countries/algeria