40 years of dreams - the protracted refugee situation of the Sahrawi people in Algeria
Paper short abstract:
Over the years the question of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria has become a highly politicized issue. Once a temporary solution, it became one of the most protracted refugee situations, perceived as a product of the unfinished colonization process of Western Sahara.
Paper long abstract:
Since 1975 the successive generations of Sahrawi people have lived in refugee camps located on the Algerian territory, struggling with difficult living conditions and hot desert climate. Over the years the question of Sahrawi refugees has become highly politicized, especially regarding their number and how it may influence the planned referendum (that has never taken place). Their refugeedom, once a temporary solution, became one of the most protracted refugee situations, perceived as a product of the unfinished colonization process of Western Sahara. The paper will take a closer look on how, over the years, the purpose of the Sahrawi refugee encampment broadened and what impact it has on the Algerian society. Over forty years' presence of the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria created a space where a set of diverse actors meet while helping the population in the camps: Sahrawi camp administration, NGOs, Algerian authorities, international organizations providing humanitarian aid, as well as the members of the host population which for years have been showing support and solidarity with the Sahrawi people. The camps seem to have multiple purposes, from caring for the Sahrawi population to becoming a functionality test of the Sahrawi state in practice. The administrative camp Rabouni is in fact the informal capital of the SADR - the de facto state represented politically and militarily by the Polisario Front. The paper is based to a great extent on the qualitative data gathered during field research in Algeria and in the Sahrawi camps on Algerian territory.
Refugee camps in African history