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Statelessness and Social Exclusion in Western Sahara

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Joanna Swinarska

on 21 October 2015

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Transcript of Statelessness and Social Exclusion in Western Sahara

of Sahrawi people in Algeria
From Statelessness to Social Exclusion

A stateless person is one 'who is not considered as a national by any State under the
operation of its law.

- According to the international community and the 1954 Convention (Article 1)
Who is a Stateless person?
Statelessness often limits access to:

birth registration
identity documentation
health care
legal employment
property ownership
political participation
freedom of movement
Today, according to UNHCR an estimated 12 million people are stateless worldwide.
Western Sahara is one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTs) that is still being decolonized. (UN, 2011)
Western Sahara used to be a Spanish colony (1885-1976). When Spain was preparing to leave Western Sahara in 1975, Moroccans moved in overtaking its territory and the Sahrawis were forced to flee.

The occupation has left hundreds of thousands of Sahrawi stateless, without any right to their lands.

Between 90,000 and 200,000 people have fled as refugees, most of them living in the refugee camp called Tindouf, in Southern Algeria and in similar camps in Mauritania.

The military and political organization who support Saharwis is called Polisario Front, their job is to keep the flag of Western Sahara flying and to help over 200,000 refugees to have an access to water and food in the most inhospitable corners of the Sahara.
limited amount of food: almost fully dependent on humanitarian aid

forced displacement (no right to their own lands, obliged to live in scarce conditions)

marginalization in Algeria (not allowed to Algerian identification, no freedom of movement, no work permit- limited work opportunities)

limited health care

limited education
SAHRAWI people are in a continuous process of social exclusion as a consequence of their STATELESS status:
“I want to become a teacher,” says Maimouna, 10.
Maimouna, 10 (right), she has lived in a Sahrawi refugee camp 1,600 km south-west of Algeria, all her life.
Several primary schools in four major refugee camps and only one middle school
Sahrawi children have no rights to Algerian schools
Lack of adequate clothing
Lack of school material
Schools lack adequate heating during the cold winters
UNHCR estimating in 2010 that 59% of the refugee camp population was under the
age of 18.
The camps’ children currently attend 29 primary schools and 25 pre-school centres in the camps (UNHCR 2006, 6), with some students eventually moving to a ‘national’ boarding school to complete their secondary studies.

2 boarding schools existed in the camps until 2006, but the major floods of 2006 destroyed one of the schools.
Do you think that education can become for Sahrawi people a key to obtain national identity and SOCIAL INCLUSION?
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