by Victoria Aitken / photography by Piera Constantini Scala
- UK -
Inspired by her friend Piera's lost heritage, writer Victoria Aitken traveled to Western Sahara to understand more about the plight of a people ousted from their land.
I flew out of New York’s stone desert and into a real one. Our journey was to begin in the Tindouf refugee camps in the Algerian desert, inhabited by some 165,000 forgotten people, the Saharawi, for over 30 years.
The mineral-rich region of Western Sahara, on the northwest coast of Africa between Morocco and Mauritania, was occupied by Morocco (and initially, by Mauritania) after the Spanish, her original colonizers, left. Despite the International Court of Justice’s ruling in 1975 that Western Sahara should not be immune to the rules of decolonization, no other country has stood up to Morocco or tried to make her back out of Western Sahara, or even denounced the construction of a 1500-kilometre fortified wall. No one talks about a wall that divides every Saharawi refugee family from their relatives and friends in the occupied parts of Western Sahara.