The bulk vessel Celerina arrived New Orleans mid-November, with a cargo of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara.
The vessel is one of the biggest which has carried out such unethical trade in a long time. 225 meters long, and with gross deadweight of 73.035 tonnes, the big vessel can possibly have carried around 70.000 tonnes of phosphate rock.
With a current phosphate rock price around 414 dollars a tonne, such a cargo would be worth 29 million USD. This sum has been given to the Moroccan state for phosphates illegally exploited on the occupied land.
Morocco took control over the phosphate mines after occupying Western Sahara in 1975, few days after their claim to the land was rejected by the International Court of Justice. The majority of the Sahrawi people fled their homeland and settled in refugee camps in Algeria. There, they are still living, suffering from lack of humanitarian aid.
The sum which the Swiss giant vessel has transported to Lousiana equals that which was given to the Sahrawi refugees through multinational donors through the entire 2007.
The Moroccan phosphate industry in Western Sahara is today the most important source of income in the land, and remains a main reason for the continued illegal occupation.
The customer of the phosphates was the Louisiana based fertiliser producer PCS.
The vessel, with IMO 9176759, is managed by the company Suisse Atlantique, in Renens, Switzerland.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
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