The Western Saharan occupied territories harbour one of the world’s biggest phosphate deposits and one of West Africa’s richest shores. Moreover, there are serious indications of the presence of oil and gas reserves along the shoreline. These valuable natural resources have always been one of the motives for the Moroccan occupation.
Morocco’s illegal endeavours have received solid backing from international commerce. It is very problematic, ethically, politically as well as legally, when commercial interests cooperate with Moroccan authorities in order to do business in the occupied territories. The companies involved, claim that their contribution is intended to provide a positive economic development in Morocco. However, this is distorted truth. First of all, Western Sahara is not a part of Morocco. The “development” is therefore an active contribution in support of Morocco’s illegal claim to the neighbouring country.
A number of international companies are today political actors that reap profits from the conflict. While Morocco finances the occupation by usurping the country’s resources, most of the Sahrawis are forced to live in refugee camps in the Algerian dessert, in poverty and miserable conditions and not being allowed any benefits resulting from the profitable commercial activities in their homeland.
The companies active in Western Sahara generate employment for illegal Moroccan settlers in the fishing industry, both through direct investment, and by exporting fishing products to countries abroad.
This type of activity undermines the wishes and interests of the majority of the Sahrawi population, and is therefore also in violation of international law. A large number of UN resolutions and international conventions define such activity as illegal.
Africa's last colony
Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.