Above photo: DHL's service point on 66 Boulevard 24 November, El Aaiún, occupied Western Sahara. Click the photo for a larger version.
On 18 May 2020, WSRW sent a letter to Deutsche Post, asking the company to clarify its involvement in the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara. Two months later, WSRW has still not received any response.
"Given the company's silence on this controversial issue, we do hope that shareholders will push for more transparency and for answers at the upcoming AGM", said Florence Peschke of WSRW.
The Annual General Meeting of Deutsche Post DHL Group is scheduled for 27 August 2020, and will be conducted virtually due to the continuing COVD-19 pandemic.
Deutsche Post's subsidiary DHL, a courier, parcel, and express mail service, opened an express branch in El Aaiun, the capital city of Western Sahara, in 2016. In a press release that DHL Express Maghreb had circulated to Moroccan media in announcement of the El Aaiún opening, CEO Jawad Ouaziz explained that the new agency in "Laayoune" (Morocco's preferred Latin spelling of El Aaiún) facilitates DHL's "partners of the region" access to its services. The aim is to "make the DHL Express offer more accessible in the regions, South, East, and Center-East", Ouaziz said, all the while referring to Morocco as the overarching country of those regions.
In line with the German government's qualification of Western Sahara as having an "unresolved status”, state institutions explicitly exclude the territory from their activities with Morocco. For example, the German development bank KfW will not invest in renewable energy projects in the territory, and just this May explicitly excluded the territory in a credit given to OCP for a water project of its mines.
UPDATE, 28.08.2020: DHL's mother company Deutsche Post stated to the investment newspaper Responsible Investor that “With our services through the local agent, we enable the population to participate in the global economy and international exchange. The most important programmes here concern diplomats and the UN mission "MINURSO". We are thus fully in line with our strategic commitment to connect people and to enable them to connect to the world.”
To date, DHL continues to locate El Aaiún in Morocco, as is evidenced by the recent screenshot of DHL's locator to the right (click the map for higher resolution). The search function on the DHL website lists the "Laayoune" branch in Morocco. Western Sahara is not included as an option in the list of countries. Oddly enough, the accompanying map is correct in displaying the border between Morocco and Western Sahara.
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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.