The end of the year saw new displacement due to incidents in breach of the 1991 ceasefire agreement, raising renewed concerns regarding the prospects for a solution to the crisis. A long-term solution to end the 45-year-old Western Sahara conflict must be found.
The Sahrawi refugee crisis is one of the longest and most protracted refugee crisis in the world – now entering its 46th year without solutions in sight. Lasting since 1975 it has taken a heavy toll on the region and its people.
Today, Sahrawi refugees live in precarious conditions in refugee camps in the Tindouf region of Algeria, a barren, arid, windswept and desolate portion of the Sahara Desert, entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance.
The Sahrawi response is suffering from dwindling resources and the situation in the refugee camps has according to WFP School Feeding Review report of 2019 over the past years been characterized by increased food insecurity (only 12% of the households in the camps are food-secure), and global acute malnutrition rates (7.6% in 2019 compared to 4.7% in 2016) among children.
Sahrawi youth, who constitute the majority of the Sahrawi refugees in Tindouf camps, have raised their voices to express their concerns about their future and called on the international community for prompt global action. We should listen to those the future belongs to. It is their right to finally witness an end to the protracted Sahrawi refugee crisis.
The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) has been present in the region since 2016, delivering humanitarian mine action and livelihoods interventions, the latter benefitting to youth in particular, with a view to enhance the self-reliance and resilience of Saharawi refugees in a safe and sustainable manner.
At the end of last year, incidents erupted in the region which constituted a breach of the 1991 cease-fire agreement between concerned parties, raising renewed concerns worldwide regarding the chances for reaching a solution to the crisis. As a result of the breach of the ceasefire and highlighting the severity of the situation, new displacement of Sahrawi from Western Sahara East of the Berm to the refugee camps was reported in the weeks following the incidents.
“This escalating conflict leaves Sahrawi refugees in an impossible spot. They were already living on the brink, with donor fatigue resulting in a massively underfunded humanitarian response. This new situation adds insult to injury,” says Laurence Desvignes, DRC’s Area Manager based in Southern Algeria for the Saharawi Response Operations.
Danish Refugee Council