Commemorating World Refugee Day 2014: Western Saharan Refugees

In commemoration of World Refugee Day this year, here’s a collection of images I took during my visit to the Dakhla Sahrawi refugee camp in southern Algeria. For a bigger view with the caption, just click on any image, and you’ll be directed to the fullscreen view.

[For more information, here’s a link to the UNCRH’s page on the situation of Western Saharan refugees.]

Media updates: On my trip to the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria

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.
Image from inside the Dakhla refugee camp.

Image from inside the Dakhla refugee camp.

My Interview with Saharawi Voice

While I was in the Dakhla Sahrawi refugee camp, I had the privilege of meeting up with the folks over at Saharawi Voice. We had a little chat about various issues surrounding knowledge production on the Western Sahara. Below is a brief snippet from the interview. Special thanks to the Saharawi Voice team. Visit their Facebook Page here, and support them through a donation if you like the work they’re doing.

(An anecdotal side note: we did this interview while there was an intense sandstorm outside. Below the video is an image of how it looked outside when this was recorded.)

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