'Blood phosphate' from Western Sahara - Part I - at what cost? October 4, 2019
'Blood phosphate' from Western Sahara - Part I - at what cost? October 4, 2019'Blood phosphate' from Western Sahara - Part I - at what cost? October 4, 2019
Tecber Ahmed Saleh is a Saharawi resistance spokesperson. Born in one of the longest-standing refugee camps in the Western Sahara, formed after Tecber's country was occupied by Morocco in the 1970s and the Saharawi people were forced into the desert. Tecber now works for the Ministry of Health in Algeria, doing what she can to make life better for those in the refugee camps, as well as educate people internationally about the Sahrawis fight for autonomy in their own land. A contested area throughout history, but also a place in which human rights abuses and media harassment have been reported on since the early 2000s.
Currently, Tecber is in Aotearoa New Zealand. She is here to educate the last remaining country external to Morocco who continues to import phosphate from the Western Sahara on the implications of this action. Since 2012, a number of countries have stopped importing the natural resource following the increasing awareness of the violations this has on international legal principles relating to non-self-governing territories. That increasing awareness has also seen direct appeals to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who visited a Western Sahara Refugee Camp in 2008 as the then President of the Union of Socialist Youth.
New Zealand gets 70% of its phosphate from Tecber's country. The two companies involved are Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients, both who publicly assert they are acting legally. In researching this piece, I reached out to both of them for a response.
Tecber joined me in studio the day after flying in to Aotearoa to tell me her story and appeal to New Zealand to diversify their phosphate sources and find alternatives to exploiting the resources of an occupied land.
This is Part I in a series, you can listen to the others here:
Photo credit: The Daily Blog