• Short Summary

    The Algerian Council of the Revolution and the Algerian Government have denied that Algerian forces are operating in the Western Sahara where a new outbreak of fighting has been reported at the Amgala oasis.

  • Description

    The Algerian Council of the Revolution and the Algerian Government have denied that Algerian forces are operating in the Western Sahara where a new outbreak of fighting has been reported at the Amgala oasis.

    On Monday night (16 February) the Council of the Revolution -- the country's supreme body -- and the Government met under the chairmanship of President Houari Boumedienne. After the meeting a statement was issued denying that any "unit of the Algerian Popular Army" was in the Western Sahara and world opinion was invited to "verify this on the spot".

    The statement said that the fighting at Amgala over the weekend, which occurred close to the Mauritanian border "means only one thing--the Saharan people exist and have decided to defend their national territory".

    The Saharan independence movement, the Polisario Front, claimed at a news conference in Algiers the same night, that the Polisario guerrillas had recaptured Amgala from the Moroccans after a three-day battle in which hundreds of Moroccans were killed, captured or put to flight.

    Since the tripartite agreement under which Spain agreed to hand over the former colony of Spanish Sahara to Morocco and Mauritania, the Polisario Freedom fighters have been organising guerrilla resistance, while the population has fled before advancing Moroccan troops.

    It is estimated that approximately two thirds of the Western Saharan population now in refugee camps, mostly around Tindouf, an Algerian border town straddling the Algerian border.

    A hundred thousand people are living in the refugee camps in conditions which have been described as "intolerable" by the Secretary of the Federation for the Rights of Man. A doctor at one of the camps has said that refugees are "dying like files" from tuberculosis and gastro-enteritis.

    Most of the refugees are nomads, and the animals they brought with them in their flight -- camels, donkeys, and goats -- are likely to die because of lack of pasture. The animals are the nomads' main source of livelihood.

    SYNOPSIS: The town of Mahbess in the Western Sahara was reported to have been captured by Moroccan troops in their current battle with the Polisario Front freedom fighters. But when this film was shot last Friday, the town was still under the control of the Polisario guerrillas.

    On Monday, a Polisario spokesman in Algiers claimed that the fighters of the freedom movement had recaptured the Amgala Oasis near the Mauritanian border during clashes over the weekend. And here, at Mahbess, the guerrillas have dug themselves into trenched defences in the desert sand.

    In Algiers on Monday night, the Algerian Government and the country's supreme body, the Council of the Revolution, issued a statement denying that Algerian forces were operating in the Western Sahara. There had been reports that the Algerians were involved in the new outbreak of fighting at Amgala. The Polisario Front claimed that their forces recaptured Amgala after a three-day battle in which hundreds of Moroccans were killed.

    During earlier engagements, the Polisario guerrillas had captured a number of Moroccan and Mauritanian army prisoners. These prisoners are being held at a secret location in the desert, and they include twenty-five Mauritanians and five Moroccans. Since Spain agreed to hand over her former colony to Morocco and Mauritania, the freedom fighters have been organising resistance. They keep their prisoners in detention areas.......which they do not want photographed. This was as far as the cameraman could go.

    Already the conflict in the Western Sahara has produced more than its fair share of refugees. This is just one refugee camp at Hafed Boujemaa near the Algerian border. It is estimated that approximately two thirds of the population of the former colony has fled to the safety of the camps.

    Most of the camps are around Tindouf--an Algerian town straddling the border. The Secretary of the Federation for the Rights of Man has described the conditions in the camps as "intolerable". A doctor at one of the camps has said the refugees are "dying like flies" from tuberculosis and gastro-enteritis.

    The children are still receiving some education, but it has to take place in dug-out classrooms. Most of the refuges are nomads and the animals they fled with may also die because of lack of pasture. Despite the guards, the main danger lies within the camps.

  • Tags

  • Data

    Film ID:
    VLVAEGAWS2SN6IEJ7ZOZ2LW3GDS13
    Media URN:
    VLVAEGAWS2SN6IEJ7ZOZ2LW3GDS13
    Group:
    Reuters - Incuding Visnews
    Archive:
    Reuters
    Issue Date:
    17/02/1976
    Sound:
    Unknown
    HD Format:
    Available on request
    Stock:
    Colour
    Duration:
    00:02:49:00
    Time in/Out:
    /
    Canister:
    N/A

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