The New Zealand firm Ballance Agri-Nutrients has a long term contracts for purchasing phosphate rock belonging to the Sahrawi people.
But the firm is not buying the phosphates from its owners.
Ballance Agri-Nutrients purchase the valuable resource from the Government of Morocco, the country that in 1975 illegally invaded Western Sahara. All the profits from the New Zealand trade go to the Moroccan government. At the same time, a majority of the Sahrawis live as refugees. Most of the Sahrawis who worked in the industry before the Moroccan occupation have been replaced with settlers.
In a statement from 2002, the UN said that no such activity can take place if the Sahrawis are not consulted. The New Zealand firms have not done so. The trade is seen to contribute in maintaining the illegal occupation.
Other phosphate importers internationally have stopped the imports due to the unethical nature of the trade. However, the New Zealand firms continue.
The photos above and below shows the vessel Nord Leader yesterday, as it discharged phosphates in the port of Tauranga, New Zealand. The vessel will discharge until 31 December 2010. She is on the fleet list of the Danish firm D/S Norden. See webpages of Port of Tauranga here.
Nord Leader (IMO: 9369980) came from El Aaiun around mid-November, and passed through the Panama Canal on its way to New Zealand. The vessel is Panama flagged.
Similarly,the vessel Fanoula, have this December been discharging for Ballance Agri-Nutrients. On 6 December 2010 she was scheduled to arrive port of Lyttelton. She also stopped in Tauranga on 21 December 2010. Fanoula is in the fleet of Greek firm Byzantine Maritime.
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.
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.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.