UK energy company to drill for oil in Moroccan-occupied Western Sahara
The UK/Irish company San Leon Energy has sparked protests after announcing plans to drill for oil in the occupied lands of Western Sahara.
Residents and other Saharawis in the occupied parts of Western Sahara say it is their homeland and dispute the companies right to exploit the areas natural resources.
The area was annexed by Morocco in the 1970's, taking over from a Spanish colonial administration.
The President of the Western Sahara Republic Mohamed Abdelaziz, who lives in exile in Algeria, has directly appealed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to intervene and “condemn these activities, which are in clear violation of international law”.
The London Stock Exchange-listed company made the announcement in July that drilling would begin in August and that French company Entrepose would be contracted to conduct the drilling.
The announcement was met with protests which were conducted inside in order to avoid the “brutalities and violence by the Moroccan police and security personnel” which meet outdoor protests, according to Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRS). A banner at the protest on 12th August read “San Leon Energy Stop supporting brutal occupation of Western Sahara".
Abdelaziz's letter to Ban Ki-Moon requested that he “call[ed] on Morocco and complicit foreign companies to stop the illegal exploitation of the natural resources of Western Sahara. If these measures are not taken, then the illegal exploration and exploitation of the Territory’s resources will further undermine the UN’s long-standing efforts to reach a peaceful solution that will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara, as required by numerous UN Security Council resolutions.”
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