The Wall of Shame
“We call it the wall of shame, even if it’s not really a wall. It’s rather a sand barrier with a mine field in front of it. When we get closer you will see the barbed wire between us and the mine fields as well.
“But sure is a shame”, he adds, even if it not a wall, I mean.
The Land Cruicer is moving fast through the sand until our man behind the wheel thinks we’re close enough.
We have driven over the Algerian border and across the narrow strip of desert that are controlled by the Saharawians. We clearly see the barbed wire, the mine field and the Wall of shame, less than 500 meters ahead. We are escorted by local police. The green and whit police car pulls up next to our vehicle and we all get out to take a closer look at the second longest defensive wall ever built by man. It is far from beating the Chineese wall world record of 8800 kilometres, but a 2700 kilometre (1680 miles) barrier of desert sand is quite an impressive structure.
Impressive is definitely not the word Khalihna Salma would use to describe the wall that separates him from the homeland of his parents. The young policeman finds a Saharawian flag in the back of the police car and waves it at the Moroccan soldiers who are watching us from their checkpoint just behind the Wall of Shame.
“It hurts right here to think that I can’t access my land”, Khalihna says and puts his hand to his chest.
“I have been living in poverty in a refugee camp all my life, thanks to this wall. It is terrible to stand here knowing that right now the Moroccans are exploiting our resources, leaving us with nothing but sand and despair”.
Many young Saharawians believe that a new war is the only solution to the problem. As long as Morocco is an allied for West in the war on terror no one wants to challenge them. And in the absence of international pressure Morocco can keep on moving Moroccan settlers in to Western Sahara, minimizing the Saharawians in their own land.
“But as a soldier you must realize that you don’t stand a chance against the Moroccan armed forces”?
“Sure we stand a chance”, Khalila says and plants his flag in the sand.
“The Moroccan soldiers over there hate this place and only do it for the money. We love this desert and do our duty here for our homeland, our parents and of course for our children.”