The Sahrawi People
The Sahrawi people have been refugees in their own region for almost 40 years. Morocco drove the Sahrawi people from their land in 1976. They were forced out of their homeland of Western Sahara fleeing to the desert of Algeria for refuge. It's in Algeria that over 200,000 Sahrawi have resided in refugee camps for over 40 years, waiting to return home, waiting for the international community to help them live free in their country of Western Sahara.
Time Line of the Western Sahara Territory
1884-- Spain colonizes the Western Sahara.
1957--Morocco raises centuries-old claim of the Western Sahara to the United Nations.
1973-- The Polisario Front is formed and establishes itself as the representative of the Sahrawi people.
1975-- The territorial dispute is taken to the World Court, they rule that people should be allowed to settle the sovereignty issue through self-determination, Spain agrees to transfer administration of the territory to Morocco and Mauritania, Morocco then sends in armed forces to occupy the territory, Polisario Front begins a 16-year long guerrilla war against Morocco.
1976--Spanish troops withdraw and Polisario guerrillas, backed by Algeria and Libya proclaim the Saharan Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) with a government-in-exile based in Algeria. Thousands of Sahrawi refugees flee to western Algeria to set up camps near the town of Tindouf.
1979-- Mauritania signs a peace treaty with the Polisario and renounces its claim to the Western Sahara.
1984-- SADR admitted as a member state to the African Union (AU) while Morocco leaves the AU.
1991--U.N. brokers ceasefire, ending the guerrilla war between Polisario forces and Morocco.
2001-- U.S. proposes autonomy for Sahrawis under Moroccan sovereignty, a referendum after a four-year transition period, Polisario and Algeria reject the proposal.
2003-- U.N. proposes Western Sahara become a semi-autonomous region of Morocco for a transition period of up to five years, to be followed by a referendum to determine whether the territory should become independent, Polisario endorses the plan, however Morocco rejects it saying that they will never give up sovereignty.
2006-- Morocco calls a U.N. report critical of its human rights record in Western Sahara biased in favor of the Polisario Front, so the Moroccan advisory council proposes autonomy, burying the prospect of independence.
2007-- Polisario proposes a flexible peace plan to the United Nations. Morocco unveils its plan the next day. Two days of U.N.-sponsored talks end with no breakthrough but they do agree to meet again. Polisario says that war may break out again if U.N.-sponsored talks fail.
2018-- Sahrawi people still living as refugees in their own land, no treaty has been made to grant them their independence. Polisario are getting impatient, fighting could break out again soon if progress is not made.
Scroll down for sources
Timeline events taken from:
“TIMELINE: Western Sahara, a 50-Year-Old Dispute.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 4 Jan. 2008, www.reuters.com/article/us-sahara-polisario-idUSL2163728820080104.
TRTWorld. “Timeline: A Brief History of the Western Sahara.” Discrimination against Muslims Spikes in France, England, TRT World, 11 Aug. 2017, www.trtworld.com/mea/timeline-of-western-sahara-morocco-and-the-polisario-front-313511.
“Western Sahara Profile.” BBC News, BBC, 14 May 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-14115273.