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Amid decreasing aid, Sahrawis seek self-sufficiency

A Sahrawi woman's successful business of producing traditional garments is helping other Western Sahara refugees support themselves in Algeria after decades of dependency on aid organizations.
An indigenous Sahrawi woman walks outside her tent in Al Smara desert refugee camp in Tindouf, southern Algeria March 4, 2016. In refugee camps near the town of Tindouf in arid southern Algeria, conditions are hard for indigenous Sahrawi residents. Residents use car batteries for electricity at night and depend on humanitarian aid to get by. The five camps near Tindouf are home to an estimated 165,000 Sahrawi refugees from the disputed region of Western Sahara, according to the United Nations refugee agency
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TINDOUF, Algeria — Sahrawi refugees have been dependent on humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs for more than four decades. They live on support provided by the United Nations or other civil society organizations to help improve everyday life in the refugee camps. However, as such help is decreasing with the refugee crisis spreading across Europe and the Middle East, some Sahrawis are becoming entrepreneurs.

Ambarka Mohamed Salem decided to turn humanitarian assistance into an opportunity for Sahrawi women to become self-sufficient. Like her peers, she fled the Moroccan-occupied territory of Laayoune, in the disputed Western Sahara region, when she was 10 years old.

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