It’s been a little over a month since I returned from my trip to the Dakhla Sahrawi refugee camp in southern Algeria. The trip was an eye-opening experience in many ways. I’m extremely grateful and thankful for the insight and advice that Sahrawis offered me before my visit, especially Agaila Abba and Aminatou Haidar–two fierce and courageous Sahrawi women who have been generous in the knowledge and kindness they’ve shared with me. I’m also indebted to Aicha al-Burki’s family, who hosted me with open arms, open hearts, and open minds. I reflect on the burden and imposition I placed upon them as a Moroccan, and how they treated me as a member of their own family. The insightful conversations I shared with my host family over meals, the late night conversations I had with their eldest daughter (who’s my age) under the unblemished night sky, and the gifts the young daughters parted me with fill my heart with warmth and a yearning to go back. I’m also grateful for the many Sahrawi refugees who opened up to me with their stories of displacement and struggles.
My trip has only reinforced my view that a referendum allowing for Sahrawi self-determination is necessary and critical in order to begin embarking on the path toward ending the Western Saharan conflict. What strikes me the most after my trip is how people attempt to complicate aspects of the conflict more than they already are, and cite those “complications” as reasons for not discussing it. Without insinuating any reductionism, the crux of the conflict–in my view–remains centered around the deprivation of a population’s right to self-determination.
Below are a few articles I’ve put together that present my humble reflections on my trip:
- A collection of interviews I conducted with members of the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic government, including a number of images on the Huffington Post. Read the article here.
- My reflections on the marginalization of the plight of Sahrawi refugees on The National. Read the article here.
- An analysis on the spatial politics of displacement, namely through the construction of Morocco’s 1,600-mile sand berm on Jadaliyya. The analysis includes a series of images and video footage from my visit to the sand berm, which is littered with an estimated 7 million land minds. Read the article here.
- Video of an interview I conducted with Saharawi Voice on the importance of Sahrawis having their own voice. Watch the video here.
- An interview I conducted with Spanish paper El Mundo while in the Dakhla refugee camp. Read the interview here [SP].
- Personal notes from my trip upon arrival to Tindouf and then the drive to Dakhla refugee camp. Read here.