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Why some in Western Sahara oppose $1 million US grant

The Obama administration is planning to approve a $1 million grant for civil society organizations in Western Sahara, but many Sahrawis have concerns about the move.
Women walk by Moroccan police on the streets of El Aaiun, western Sahara, November 6, 2005. Moroccan police were on alert fearing Saharawi demonstrations calling for self-determination to the Saharawi people on the 30th anniversary of the Green March. On November 6, 1975 the so-called Green March into Western Sahara began when 300,000 Moroccans crossed into Western Sahara following the orders of King Hassan II of Morocco to force Spain to hand over the territory. As a result, Spain abandoned Western Sahara

TINDOUF, Algeria — Western Sahara is the only African non-self-governing territory. It is often called Africa’s last colony, and the territory sparks controversy easily. For example, the African Union recently condemned the Crans Montana Forum on Africa, whose slogan is “Committed to a More Humane and Impartial World,” for meeting in the city of Dakhla, which is under Moroccan control.

Now the United States is drawing fire. President Barack Obama's administration is planning to approve a $1 million grant for civil society organizations in the region. Meanwhile, much of the Sahrawi indigenous population lives in refugee camps in southwest Algeria, waiting in exile for a United Nations referendum on independence promised a quarter century ago.

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