As Morocco invaded Western Sahara in 1975, half the population had to flee. Today, 40 years later, they still live as refugees in neighbouring Algeria.
On the evacuated lands, the German company Siemens is building wind farms for the Moroccan government. The largest farm, Foum El Oued is a 50 Megawatt complex, near the capital city of El Aaiún.
“By investing in such infrastructure on the occupied land, Morocco naturally becomes less inclined to take part in the UN peace process. The involvement of Siemens is deeply concerning, as it contributes to cement the occupation”, Jalihenna Mohamed stated, of the Saharawi Campaign Against the Plunder.
His group is working on denouncing the involvement of foreign firms operating in the occupied territory. Siemens has never responded to whether it has sought the consent of the people of the territory.
For the protest yesterday, which took part in the refugee camp called Auserd, hundreds of people walked from their homes to the gathering place where the protest took place.
Mohamed is worried that Morocco at the COP22 climate talks in November might receive unfounded praise from the international community. He explains that the material which Morocco is already presenting for the COP22 contains false information, as Morocco suggests that its Siemens projects in Western Sahara are located in Morocco. They are not.
“An increasing part of Morocco’s energy projects are not in Morocco, but in Western Sahara. No state in the world recognises Morocco’s groundless claims to our land. We call on all attendees of the COP22 climate talks to be careful when referring to the Moroccan projects – as many of them are not in fact located in Morocco, but rather contributing to the conflict in neighbouring Western Sahara, which is under annexation”, stated Mohamed.
The two companies which operate the Foum El Oued are German Siemens and the Moroccan company Nareva.
Western Sahara Resource Watch covered the controversies of renewable energy in occupied Western Sahara in the 2013 report 'Dirty Green March'.
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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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.