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Western Sahara: Landmine Injures Five During Peaceful Protest

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Western Sahara, Governance, Human Rights, Humanitarian Response, Refugees, War & Conflict

Last week, Saharawis and Spaniards stood together in solidarity [1] against the berm [2] (“Wall of Shame”) built between Morocco and the Western Sahara, over which Morocco claims sovereignty. The protest, dubbed the International March against the Wall of Shame, resulted in an unconfirmed number of Saharawis injured by landmines.

Blogger Sahara Ocidental, who is based in Tindouf [3], is one of the only bloggers discussing the incident. Prior to its inauguration, the blogger wrote [4]:

Hundreds of Spanish visitors spent the evening hours on Thursday making final preparations for their march of protest and solidarity in front of the Moroccan-built wall that divides the Western Sahara in two.

Lunches were made, bags were packed, and orientation sessions were held to make sure that all of the participants were ready for Friday’s events, organized and coordinated by the National Union of Saharawi Women (UNMS).

These 300 Spaniards have signed up to make the two-hour trip, but several hundred more – from Germany, Italy, Great Britain, the United States, France, Austria, Portugal, El Salvador, Mexico and other countries – will be accompanying them as they demonstrate their opposition to the Moroccan occupation in the Western Sahara and the physical barrier erected between the Saharawi refugees near Tindouf, Algeria, and their family members still living in the territory occupied by Morocco.

The blogger then states [5] that, during the protest, five Saharawis were injured when a 19-year-old accidentally detonated a landmine:

Five Saharawis were injured in Rouss Essabty on Friday, 70 km from the Saharawi refugee camps, when a 19-year-old boy stepped on a landmine.

The victims, along with 3,000 other Saharawis and international activists, were participating in a peaceful protest against the Moroccan wall that divides the Western Sahara.

The blast occurred when the five victims were attempting to approach the wall by clearing a path through a barbed wire barrier that surrounds it, which is known to the Saharawis as the Wall of Shame. Three of the victims, identified as Ibrahim Hussein Abait, Hamdi Fadli Adbelahi and Mohamed Salim Bouda Larossi, were passing through an active minefield with more than 300 other demonstrators.

Ibrahim, from the Saharawi refugee camp of Dakhla, suffered the gravest injury, losing more than half of his left foot in the explosion. Hamdi and Mohamed sustained minor burns and shrapnel wounds to their faces, arms and backs.

In February, two Saharawis were killed [6] when a landmine detonated. The Western Sahara is known for having scores of landmines [7] left over from conflicts dating back to World War II.