More about the Sahrawi People

At WE International, it is important to us that we are educated about the issues and communities we are working with. Please join us in learning more about the Sahrawi people, their life in the refugee camps, and about the unique challenges they face. 

Fast Facts about the Sahrawi

  • Thousands were forced out of their homes 

  • The Sahrawi people established the Polisario Front 

  • Moroccan income from its Western Saharan resources exceeds the aid Morocco provides to refugees

  • The Sahrawi have a female dominated society 

    • Many men stayed behind in Morocco to fight, which left the women to establish the refugee camps in Algeria

  • The Sahrawi have begun to lay the groundwork for a multiparty democracy once they achieve independence and are able to return to the Western Sahara

  • The Sahrawi are Sunni Muslims

Information taken from:

Life in the Refugee Camps

All of the refugee camps have schools, hospitals, and offices that are run and governed by the Polisario Front. The Sahrawi refugees rely on international aid for food, such as flour, rice, vegetable oil, lentils, onions, tomatoes, and bananas. A lot of the Sahrawi refugees do not get paid or earn a salary, but rather, they receive a small monthly stipend from the U.N. High Commissioner to work in hospitals and schools. Two major health problems within the camps are malnutrition and a blood disorder called anemia. The interesting thing about the Sahrawhi refugee camps is that they have no interest in integrating with Algerian society despite the fact that they are established there. They are determined to stay in Algeria until Western Sahara becomes independent. This is why the camps remain isolated and are heavily dependent on international aid. The Sahrawi people want full self-determination over their lands, whereas Morocco does not want to give up its autonomy over Western Sahara. Although a ceasefire has been established, a political solution has not yet been reached. Pressure from the younger Sahrawi generation is mounting and the Polisario face more and more pressure to return to war to finally obtain their independence.  

Information taken

What is the Berm aka The Wall of Shame?

Not only do the Sahrawi people face isolation and banishment from their home lands, but they also face the terror of the berm. The berm was made by the Moroccan forces in the 1980s to separate the Polisario Front in the east with the Moroccan front in the west. The building of this berm caused families to be stranded and separated on either side of the wall. In addition to the building of this wall the Moroccans littered it with an estimated 9 million land mines. This poses a huge risk to anyone passing through this area, especially the Sahrawi people residing in the refugee camps. The berm makes the Western Sahara one of the most heavily contaminated territories in the world.  


Information taken from:



Epatko, Larisa. “The 37-Year-Old Refugee Situation You Know Nothing About.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 25 Oct. 2013,

Mikva, Keren. “12 Things You Didn't Know About The Sahrawi People Of Western Sahara.” AFKTravel, 24 Apr. 2015,

“Western Sahara Conflict and Its 9 Million Landmines.” GSDM, 23 Dec. 2017,

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