Western Sahara: Impacts of the Wall

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Western Sahara: Impacts of the Wall
By: International Campaign against the Wall of the Moroccan Occupation of Western Sahara (ICaWMOWS)
10 February 2021

Since it was built in the early eighties, the wall has had many negative consequences on different aspects of the life of the Sahrawi civilian population. With regard to its political and legal consequences, the wall isolates and separates the occupied territories form the Sahrawi liberated areas and from the whole world. It also serves to consolidate the occupation of the Territory as an irreversible fact and to create a “fait accompli” on the ground at the same time as Morocco claims to have complete control over Western Sahara denying in this way the existence of liberated territories administered by the Frente POLISARIO and the Sahrawi Republic (SADR).

In terms of the economic impact of the wall, it is known that the Moroccan economy is becoming increasingly dependent on the illegal plundering of the natural resources in the occupied territories of Western Sahara (phosphate, fisheries, minerals, agriculture, etc.), which provides employment for the vast majority of Moroccan settlers in the Territory. Sahrawi citizens who live under occupation suffer marginalisation and deprivation of their basic socio-economic rights. The heavily mined areas have become uninhabitable with little economic productivity and this situation has greatly affected the desert-linked livelihood of many Sahrawis. The Moroccan wall also represents a giant protection behind which Morocco persists in its systematic plundering of the natural resources of the Territory.

As for its humanitarian, social, cultural and psychological impact, the Moroccan wall is a wall of separation par excellence because it damages the social fabric of Sahrawi society and divides Sahrawi families between the occupied areas and the refugee camps in south-western Algeria. Landmines endanger the traditional Sahrawi lifestyle linked to the desert and prevent divided Sahrawi families from transmitting to their children the traditions and cultural values of their society. The wall also transforms the occupied territories into a large prison in which all forms of physical and psychological repression are systematically practiced with impunity. This situation has contributed to aggravating the sense of isolation, alienation and vulnerability among Sahrawi population in those areas.

In terms of its impact on security, the wall represents a continuing threat to regional security owing to the 7 million mines laid along the wall in addition to large quantities of explosive remnants of war and cluster munitions. Besides, the involvement of Moroccan military in the smuggling of prohibited goods, drug trafficking and illegal immigration from and to the Sahrawi occupied territories represents a serious threat to the security of the whole region.

In terms of its environmental impact, the construction of the wall and the infrastructure that it contains have led to profound changes in the surface of the land that has become more vulnerable to wind erosion and water stagnation. Due to its structure, the wall acts as a barrier to the flow of water into the areas southeast of the wall, as the above satellite image shows. This situation has increased desertification in those areas and will clearly have a long-term impact on the ecosystem of the whole region.

Original article

Photo on front page: An aerial view of the Moroccan Occupation Wall. Source: ICaWMOWS. Photo on this page: Moroccan occupation police beating Sahrawis for expression opposition to the Moroccan occupation. Source: ICaWMOWS.

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