HIC-MENA [ Habitat International Coalition ]

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Displacement of war and occupation

What is affected
Housing Private
Land Social/public
Land Private
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 04 October 1975
Region MENA
Country Western Sahara
City Refugee camps in unoccupied Western Sahara and southwest Algeria

Affected persons (number & composition)

Total 196000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Your solution Self-determination for the Western Sahara people as International Court of Justice advised in its opinion 1975/1 (16 October 1975), at: http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&p2=4&code=sa&case=61&k=69
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Forced eviction

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Kingdom of Moroccan
Brief narrative Western Sahara is a territory in northwest Africa, bounded to the north by Morocco, to the east and south by Mauritania, and to the west by the Atlantic Ocean; area 266,800 sq km/103,000 sq mi; population (2004) 417,000. The capital is Laâyoune (Arabic El Aaiún). Exports include phosphates, of which there are vast deposits at Bu Craa to the southwest of Laâyoune, and iron ore. Towns include Ad Dakhla. The currency is the dirham, the main language Arabic, and the principal religion Sunni Muslim. The region is administered by Morocco. It is recognized as a state by over 70 countries (in 2003). This Saharan coastal region (1,000 km/625 mi long) was designated a Spanish "sphere of influence" in 1884, because it lies opposite the Spanish-ruled Canary Islands. On securing its independence in 1956, Morocco laid claim to and invaded this "Spanish Sahara" territory, but was repulsed. Spanish Sahara became a Spanish province in 1958. Moroccan interest was rekindled from 1965, following the discovery of rich phosphate resources at Boukra, and within Spanish Sahara a pro-independence nationalist movement developed, spearheaded by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia al Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO), established in 1973. After the death of the Spanish dictator General Franco, Spain withdrew and the territory was partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania in 1976. POISARIO rejected this partition, declared their own independent Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), and proceeded to wage a guerrilla war, securing indirect support from Algeria and, later, Libya. By 1979 they had succeeded in their struggle against Mauritania, which withdrew from their southern sector and concluded a peace agreement with Polisario, and in 1982 the SADR was accepted as a full member of the Organization of African Unity. Morocco, which occupied the Mauritanian-evacuated zone, still retained control over the bulk of the territory, including the key towns and phosphate mines, which it protected with an "electronic defensive wall" 2,500 km/1,550 mi long and defended by mines, completed in 1987. From the mid-1980s this wall was gradually extended outwards as Libya and Algeria reduced their support for POLISARIO and drew closer to Morocco. In 1988, Morocco and the POLISARIO Front agreed to United Nations-sponsored plans for a ceasefire and a referendum in Western Sahara, based on 1974 voting rolls, to decide the territory`s future. However, subsequent divisions over the terms of the referendum resulted in continued fighting. The holding of the referendum was planned for the end of 1993, but was subsequently postponed after the breakdown of UN-sponsored peace talks between Morocco and the Polisario in New York; by 1995 £87.5 million had been spent and only 11,000 eligible voters identified. In the meantime, Morocco has continued to facilitate the settlement of its populations inside the occupied zone. In 1996 POLISARIO threatened a resumption of fighting if the referendum was not soon held. In June 1998 it was decided to delay the referendum on the territory`s future until at least February 1999. Talks were held between Morocco and POLISARIO in London, England, in June 2000. A plan proposed by United Nations (UN) special envoy James Baker, and backed by the UNB Secretary-General Kofi Annan that would make Western Sahara an autonomous region of Morocco for the next four years, was rejected by the POLISARIO Front in June 2001. The independence movement accused the UN of taking Morocco`s side and ignoring the rights of the Saharan people. An estimated 196,000 people live in refugee camps near Tindouf, southwest Algeria. Morocco benefits from the natural resources extracted from the Western Saharan territory and territorial sea. Exports include phosphates, of which there are vast deposits at Bu Craa to the southwest of Laâyoune, and iron ore. Morocco fishes in the Western Sahara territorial waters, and has negotiated such ri
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