Photos: Western Sahara Rebels Shutter Border Crossing, Demand UN Add Human Rights Mission

Africa

Saharawi demonstrators have shut down a border crossing with Mauritania in order to draw attention to their plight ahead of the United Nations’ renewal of its mission in Western Sahara. The activists demand the UN begin monitoring human rights in the country, which has been occupied by Morocco for 45 years.

For more than a week, protesters have shut down the El Guerguerat border crossing between Western Sahara and Mauritania in a bid to pressure the United Nations to increase its activities in the desert country. A six-month extension of the UN Mission for Western Sahara (MINURSO) is due to be voted on Wednesday, and activists and representatives of the Saharawi people have demanded its purview be extended to include human rights monitoring.

The annexation got Morocco kicked out of the African Union for many years, but more recently, some African nations have come around to supporting Rabat’s position, though efforts to curry favor with world powers such as Russia have met with mixed results. Meanwhile, Morocco has retained control of Bou Craa, one of the world’s largest phosphate mines, in Western Sahara’s north.

Saharawi Voice, a collective of Saharawi citizen journalists, wrote on Twitter on Monday that “a mixture of frustration, anger and timing has led to the current situation.”

“The little hope that MINURSO will eventually carry out a referendum for Saharawis to decide our fate, lies in the Personal Envoy of the Secretary…

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