Bitter fruit in Switzerland

Bitter fruit in Switzerland

The conflict over the Western Sahara has been forgotten. Meanwhile the third generation of Sahrauis is growing up. They live in refugee camps in the barren desert of Algeria or in the Moroccan-occupied part of the country, where they are exposed to human rights violations. The international community, political and economic actors, share responsibility for this untenable situation.

Cherry tomatoes with plastic wrapping in harasses in a supermarket.
Such cherry tomatoes are produced in the Western Sahara.

The exploitation of resources in a territory without self-government - territory - according to the official UN status of Western Sahara - is only permitted if the affected population gives its consent. The local Sahrauis have nothing to gain from the lucrative export business. Moreover, irrigated cultivation in the desert is an ecological disaster. Groundwater reserves of fossil, non-renewable water are used up for the plantations.

Legitimisation of the crew
Swiss organisations supporting the Sahrauis in their right to self-determination have been working for years to ensure that the products are at least properly declared. The legal situation was always clear: Western Sahara is not included in the free trade agreement between Switzerland and Morocco. Therefore, these products cannot be imported at reduced prices and must be correctly declared both for customs and for consumers, namely with "Western Sahara". The correct declaration is not enough, however. Economic relations with companies in the occupied territories are tantamount to de facto recognition of Morocco's claim to Western Sahara in violation of international law. They legitimise the Moroccan occupation and cement the status quo.

After Coop and Migros and its subsidiary Denner decided at the end of 2017 to stop selling products from the Western Sahara, it is now only Volg who occasionally carries tomatoes from the occupied territory in its range in Switzerland. 

Tell Volg you don't like it!

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