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Refused access to Western Sahara due to 'bad weather'

A group of Norwegian trade unionists were at midnight refused access to occupied Western Sahara due to the bad weather conditions there.
Published: 23.01 - 2017 00:51Printer version    
From the right: Mattias Bergdal, Vebjørn Steinsholt, Fredrik Sanne Wattum, Kristian Duong, Astrid Öhlund Levåg, Heidi Berge Bergestig. Klikk for høytoppløselig versjon.

"The police told that we were not allowed to travel further to the south since the weather was bad", Ms Astrid Levåg said, a member of the youth chapter of the trade union Industri Energi. Levåg was part of a group of 6 Norwegians who wanted to visit Western Sahara.

However, the group was already stopped in a checkpoint in the town of Guelmim in southern Morocco.

vaeret300.jpgThe weather forecast for Western Sahara tomorrow morning is sunshine and thirteen degrees and a light breeze from east-north-east, seven meters a second. In the evening it will be eighteen degrees, increasing to a moderate breeze. The forecast shows sunshine for all foreseeable future.

"We were told that it is not safe in Western Sahara, and that it is dangerous for foreigners there. The police told it is dangerous for foreigners there and that we should rather go to Agadir", Levåg told.

The check-point is on the south side of the town of Guelmim. Nine police officers were present.

"Our passports and the car were thoroughly photographed", Levåg told.

"It is really sad. We so much want to go there and show to the Saharawis that we support them and to learn about the issue. But there seems to be no way to get in", Ms Heidi Bergestig, vice president of the Industri Energi student committee told. This was the second time that she tried to enter the territory. Last year she was also deported from South Morocco.

"Morocco has committed a large violation of international law. Few people know what is really going on in the territory. They even expel UN peace keeping staff. What kind of country does that, really?", Bergestig said.

They went to learn about the referendum that is to take place in Western Sahara and about the issue of the Norwegian business involvement which takes place there in partnership with the Moroccan government.

This is the fourth Norwegian group being expelled from Western Sahara over the course of the last two days.

The group consisted of:
  • Astrid Levåg, from Bergen, board member of the youth section of the trade union Industri Energi.
  • Heidi Berge Bergestig, from Notodden, vice-president of the student chapter of Industri Energis, student of social science and human rights.
  • Kristian Duong, from Moss, member of the Industri Energis youth section.
  • Mattias Bergdal, from Malvik and Vinjeøra, member of the Industri Energi
  • Vebjørn Steinsholt, from Lardal and Trondheim, member of Industri Energi,
  • Fredrik Sanne Wattum, from Spydeberg, student.



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    Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.

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