During a meeting of the European parliamentary intergroup "Peace for the Saharawi people" in Strasbourg, the president, Margot Kessler, announced that the Swedish parliament has pronounced itself in favour of the Peace Plan as the only solution to the conflict in Western Sahara. The intergroup heard speeches from Khadija Hamdi, member of the Saharawi parliament, and Mama Sidi, general secretary of the Union of Saharawi Women, who underlined the similarities of the present situation and that of the seventies. They believe that the present abandonment of the referendum for a so-called third way will lead to a new war, stressing the responsibility of countries of the European Union.
"Saharawi Women: towards a new future in Saharawi society"
This two day conference, organised by the Belgian committee of support for the Saharawi people and Oxfam Solidarity, took place in Brussels, in collaboration with the Union of Saharawi Women. The participants from Algeria, Morocco, South Africa, Palestine, El Salvador, Peru, Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Switzerland, undertook to defend the right to self-determination claimed by Saharawi women. The Saharawi women expressed their desire to meet their Moroccan sisters to work together for a free Sahara and a democratic Morocco. (Final Declaration french)
Cuba: On the occasion of 20 May, the anniversary of the start of armed struggle in Western Sahara, a ceremony was held in the province of Holguin, with the participation of the SADR Ambassador, Naama Said Yumani and representatives of local authorities. Over 300 people took part in the meal which followed, of whom a good number were former workers in the Saharawi refugee camps. (corr.)
Slovenia: The Western Sahara support society has organised a protest in front of the Spanish and French Embassies in Ljubljana. (corr.)
Algeria - EU
A European parliamentary delegation led by Raimon Obiols, head of the delegation responsible for relations with the countries of the Maghreb, traveled to Algeria. During discussions with Algerian officials, Mr Obiols, who declared himself in favour of "a negotiated solution between the parties, directly or indirectly affected by the conflict" of Western Sahara, indicated that the "next two months will be decisive" in terms of unblocking the situation of an impasse in implementing the settlement of this question. (aps)
Raimon Obiols, also a Spanish socialist member of parliament, arrived in the Saharawi refugee camps for a visit of three days. He had political talks and visited a certain number of socio-economic projects in the three wilayas of Smara, El Ayoun and Ausserd. Mr Obiols was accompanied by Mrs Pasqualina Napoletano, European parliamentarian and vice-president of the Mediterranean committee of the European Parliament.
Saharawi officials, during various meetings hold with the delegation, described the unbearable situation of their exile, their disappointment following endless postponements of the referendum. They emphasised they are not looking for war, but demanding the implementation of the resolutions of international bodies: "The determination of the Saharawi people is so great that they have lost everything and have nothing left to lose but their liberty", an official declared.
In an exclusive interview with the SPS, Mr Obiols said he had seen, in the course of his talks, "just how serious the situation is" and full of potential dangers. He noted the firm will of the Saharawi people to decide freely their own future, in conformity with the agreements, but also "a will for dialogue and flexibility which really impressed us, because it is a demonstration of very remarkable maturity". For the MEP, "the EU must decide on an increase in humanitarian aid". He announced the forthcoming visit of a "delegation from the European Parliament of twelve people", but not the date. Before leaving, the delegation talked with the Saharawi president. (SPS)
United Nations - decolonization
The Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples - known as the Special Committee of 24 - organised in Havana, within the framework of the Second International Decade for the Eradication of Colonialism (2001-2010), the Caribbean Regional Seminar on Decolonization, devoted to the 17 territories including Western Sahara, which have not already been decolonized.
The Saharawi Ambassador to Cuba, Naama Said Yumani, intervened on the question of the Sahara. (full text spanish). The Moroccan representative reacted, claiming that the problem of the Sahara is not a question of decolonization. Cuban NGOs denounced the attempts of Morocco to prevent the holding of the referendum. UN Press release:
21.05.01, Wales, United Kingdom: A group of young people who have recently returned to Wales from the Western Sahara refugee camps are making their voice heard during the election campaign. They heard the news about the UK arms deal with Morocco and felt ashamed of Britain. They want politicians to bring pressure on the British government to fulfill their promise of an 'ethical foreign policy' regarding the Saharawi people.
21.05.01, Wales, United Kingdom: Mohammed Chekh, the general Secretary of the Saharawi Trade Unions, while in Wales, was meeting with trade union leaders from the TUC, UNISON, TGWU, the NUT and the Cardiff Trades Council. He declared: "We are asking the people of Wales to use their influence in Westminster and Europe to ensure that Morocco removes the obstacles that prevent the referendum taking place." (News Wales )
24.05.01, Ljubljana, Slovenia, Slovene Ethnographical museum: Professor of anthropology and ethnology Dr. Borut Brumen held a lecture on Saharawis, while Ales Skornsek-Ples, chairman of Western Sahara support society held a lecture about the conflict and political situation in Western Sahara. Two videofilms about refugees and ethno music were also introduced to the audience.
Civitavecchia, provincia di Roma: E nata, il 05.10.00, l'associazione di volontariato "BAMBINI DEL SOLE" del Sahara Occidentale, attiva per quanto riguarda le attività di soggiorno per i due mesi estivi, ha gia inviato nei campi per ben tre volte una sua delegazione. L'associazione a fatto richiesta di un gruppo di 20 bambini che trascorreranno l'estate 2001 nel comune. < email@example.com>
USA: The well known model, actress and singer, Cynthia Basinet, will very soon be visiting the Sahrawi refugee camps for a first-hand assestment at the invitation of the US-WSF and the Sahrawi refugees. Cynthia plans to issue a number of international press releases concerning her visit to the Sahrawi refugee camps immediately upon her return to Hollywood.
03.06.01: The first German charter flight will leave Frankfurt for the camps. Organised by Medico International and supported by the German committee of support for the Saharawi people, it will take over a hundred participants representing the media, NGOs, schools etc, who, on their return will be able to increase public awareness among German speaking people about the last colonial conflict on African soil and give new breath to the solidarity movement.
17-19.06.01: Refugee camps, Tindouf: 6th General Assembly of AFAPREDESA. In addition to the administrative part, there will be debates, workshops and talks. Anyone interested in taking part is invited to contact the office in Madrid, e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org or tel.(0034) 619832632.
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