- Conflicts and Disasters
“I come from a conservative family, who prepared me to defend our cause. My father is a soldier and my mother a housewife.”
The cause Bashir is refering to is the Sahrawi’s fight. For 40 years now, his people have been living in refugee camps in Southern Algeria.
“When I was a child, I got in trouble a lot; I fought with all the local children. My mother used to tell me off a lot, and I was blamed whenever local mischief occurred.” Today, 20 year-old Bashir is a trainer and a teacher in the camp of Boujdour, next to the camp he was born in.
When he was a child, thanks to a programme that allows young Sahrawis, aged between 7 and 12, Bashir went to Spain for a summer. “I dreamt about being able to stay with my Spanish host family and continue my studies there. The generation that had the opportunity to go on holiday abroad became aware that, elsewhere, another world is possible, which encourages us even more, reinforcing our convictions. But it wasn’t possible for me to stay in Spain.”
“When I visit my friends, we discuss various different subjects, such as politics and the changes taking place in our society. For all the people who have only ever known life in a refugee camp, it’s painful to anticipate having to stay there for years to come. 40 years in this desert environment has weakened our resistance. But the 40 years we have been here show that our young people, even though they have never known their homeland, still have reserves of energy to draw on. Every day, we live in hope that this situation can come to an end as quickly as possible.”
“In April every year, negotiations restart in New York with a new hope of finding a solution that will enable us to gain our independence. But if we can’t find the solution through negotiations, we will have no other choice but to resort to war. And if that happens, I must go too. I want my generation to keep its hopes up, because at the moment, people of my age no longer have any hope for ‘life’. What will that be for the next generation?”
Photo: Tineke D’Haese/Oxfam
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