Institute for International
Cooperation and Development Studies

The Conference of Sister Cities and Twin Towns related with the Saharawi People ends with a resolution aimed at strengthening solidarity from local institutions

Date: 2021 December 9

For 46 years, the Saharawi people have been enduring intolerable living conditions in the refugee camps at Tindouf, Algeria and in the territories occupied by Morocco in the Western Sahara. So begins the resolution agreed at the Conference of Sister Cities and Twin Towns held in Vitoria-Gasteiz on 2nd December with the aim of renewing ties between Saharawi and Basque local authorities. At present, there are over 115 Basque public institutions twinned with the Sahara, and the number is even higher if we take into account those that support the Saharawi people by means of cooperation projects.

The meeting was opened by Pedro Elosegi, president of the General Assembly of Alava; Fatma El Medhi, SADR Minister of Cooperation and Ernesto Sainz Lanchares, president of Euskal Fondoa. Then Abdulah Arabi, the Polisario Front delegate for Spain, and M. Limam Mohamed, Saharawi delegate for the Basque Country, spoke about the current situation of the conflict in the Western Sahara.

Hegoa took part in this meeting with a presentation by its director, Irantzu Mendia Azkue, on international law and human rights violations in Western Sahara. Mendia explained how "the crimes against the Sahrawi people are the result of systematic, planned, large-scale practices perpetrated by the Moroccan government with total impunity".

After this presentation, Fatma El Medhi, SADR Minister for Cooperation, addressed the situation in the refugee camps, the deficit in terms of humanitarian aid and the needs of the Saharawi dairas and wilayas. After the reading of the resolution, the mayor of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Gorka Urtaran, closed the meeting.

Objectives of the Conference resolution

Among the main objectives of this Conference of Sister Cities and Twin Towns related with the Saharawi People is the commitment to contribute from the local level to the development and the consolidation of the Saharawi State, improving its structures in the refugee camps and in the liberated territories of the SADR.

In this sense, the resolution calls for an increase in humanitarian cooperation, development projects, public services, job creation, the functioning of Saharawi institutions and the strengthening of the role of women and youth.