An algae called spirulina has existed for as long as there has been life on earth. It is highly nutritious, composed of between 60 and 70% proteins, and rich on vitamins, calcium, magnesium and iron. It also contains rare nutrients stimulating human immune systems. It is often used to complement imbalanced diets, and as support for malnourished people. The organism is artificially cultivated with high costs, as it is hard for researchers to recreate its natural living conditions.
Now, a rare lake of the unique spirulina has been discovered close to El Aaiún in occupied Western Sahara. The main locations for natural spirulina in the world have so far been in Chad, in the Lonar crater lake in India, as well as in the Texcoco lake in Mexico.
From what APSO has learnt, samples of the spirulina from El Aaiún in Western Sahara are now being analysed in laboratories in France.
If the quality reveals to be good enough, the organism could be highly important for Sahrawis facing malnutrition. A health study from 2008 showed that 1 out of 5 Sahrawi children in the Western Sahara refugee camps in Algeria are malnourished.
However, the legitimate owners of the nutritious resource, will be unable to benefit from it. They live in exile, while the resource is located in the territory that Morocco has occupied.
The owners of the land where the spirulina have been found, were chased from the territory in 1975, when Morocco entered their land under UN condemnation.
In the same manner, Morocco is currently also exploiting the rich fisheries resources offshore Western Sahara, by selling licences to foreign governments. None of these income, and none of the fish, ends up on the table of the Sahrawi people.
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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