Our work in Western Sahara

A girl washes clothes in the trough
Ever since 1975, over 100,000 Sahrawi refugees have been living in camps around the southern Algerian town of Tindouf. They fled from Western Sahara when it was occupied by Morocco and are waiting for a permanent political solution to the problem of Western Sahara.
A UNO referendum to decide on the autonomous status of the Sahrawi population has now been postponed for 18 years. For the refugees in the camps, the uncertainty of the situation is almost unbearable. Their future is unknown and because of their lack of resources they have become entirely dependent on international aid.

Dreary daily life for children and young people
The camps have been in existence for nearly 40 years. Daily life is dreary and offers little variety for children and young people in particular. Smara, with 45,000 occupants, is the largest refugee camp in the Western Sahara. In the last seven years, seven youth centres have been created there with the help of terre des hommes schweiz. They are managed by our partner organisation UJSARIO Smara.

Working for the future
In the youth centres, young people learn how to improve their future prospects and make use of their own resources. USJARIO Smara offers classes in languages and IT and organises courses in sewing and cooking. The young Sahrawis are very interested in these courses because they can learn practical life skills which improve their career prospects. There is also the option of taking part in all kinds of activities at the youth centres: music, sports and games are among the core services provided by the organisation, as well as information events on subjects such as health, protecting the environment and preventing violence.
The Youth2Youth logo


Help for young people from young people.

In all its work in every single country it is involved in, terre des hommes schweiz relies on the strengths of young people. That is why the training programme Youth2Youth has been developed and is growing constantly.