War & Peace

Forty years in exile

When twenty-three years ago Bechir agreed, like all his fellow soldiers in the Saharawi People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), to put away his weapons and bring to an end a twenty-year war waged against Morocco for the liberation of Western Sahara, he still had some doubts as to the wisdom of this decision. He knew that the diplomatic route would be full of obstacles and pitfalls, but he hoped that the commitment of the international community could lead to concrete results, without more bloodshed.

But since 1991, the year of the UN-brokered ceasefire that should have paved the way to a referendum for the independence of this part of the desert, nothing, literally nothing has changed for the Saharawi people.