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News Archive 2009
News Archive 2008

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Dutch vessel transporting resources from occupied Western Sahara

A Dutch cargo vessel is at present transporting illegally extracted sand from the occupied Western Sahara to Casablanca, Morocco. This contravenes the advice of the Dutch government, which discourages doing business in Western Sahara.
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“The Dutch government does not recognise the Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara and discourages doing investments or business in the territory of Western Sahara below the 27th parallel”, says the advice of the Dutch government.

But a vessel that appears in the fleet list of Wagenborg Shipping BV, a shipping company from Delfzijl in the Netherlands, is currently involved in the transport of sand from occupied Western Sahara.

The cargo vessel “Fensfjord” is owned by the Norwegian shipping company Fonnes Shipping AS, but has been chartered by Wagenborg Shipping BV. The Netherlands is also the flag state of the vessel.

On Monday 27 May, the Fensfjord arrived at the harbour of El Aaiun, the capital of Western Sahara – a territory that has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. After loading more than 4000 tonnes of sand, the vessel set sail for Casablanca, Morocco.

This kind of transport is not in line with the advice of the Dutch government. Furthermore, it is in violation of international law. In 2002, the UN Security Council ordered its Legal Service to look into the legality of natural resource exploitation in Western Sahara. The conclusion was that the exploitation and trade in resources of Western Sahara is in violation of international law if the original population, the Saharawi, did not consent to and benefit from such activities.

Norwegian owner passes the buck on to Wagenborg Shipping

In an interview with Norwegian newspaper Strilen yesterday, the Norwegian Shipping company Fonnes Shipping AS that owns the Fensfjord, put the blame entirely on the Dutch company Wagenborg. Hans Petter Fonnes, who owns and manages Fonnes Shipping with his brother Roy Fonnes, told the newspaper that he is aware of the political situation in Western Sahara.

When confronted with the position of the Norwegian government, which urges Norwegian companies to not carry out business in this territory, Fonnes stated that he considers that the advice is not valid in this case.

"We don’t do business in Western Sahara. The vessel is owned and operated from the Netherlands and is only managed from Austrheim", he stated. He explained that they are not the ones who decide which assignments the vessel takes on. "It is a brokering firm in the Netherlands that does that. We go where we are assigned to", he told.

"There is nothing illegal in what we do", says Fonnes.



15.02 - 2016 / 15.02 - 2016Hunger striking to demand education
13.02 - 2014 / 13.02 - 2014Saharawi journalists jailed for covering protests and plunder
14.11 - 2013 / 14.11 - 2013Morocco hinders Saharawi activist's vital surgery
19.09 - 2013 / 19.09 - 2013Mass Grave Revealed in Western Sahara
31.05 - 2013 / 31.05 - 2013Dutch vessel transporting resources from occupied Western Sahara
10.03 - 2011 / 10.03 - 2011Parties Conclude Another Round of Talks
25.02 - 2011 / 25.02 - 2011Hungering for justice: Saharawi political prisoners on hunger strike
11.02 - 2011 / 11.02 - 2011Take Action for Human Rights Monitoring in Western Sahara
11.02 - 2011 / 11.02 - 2011Germany indicts alleged Moroccan spy
19.12 - 2010 / 19.12 - 2010So much for human rights
27.05 - 2010 / 27.05 - 2010Amnesty International's annual report: Morocco / Western Sahara
18.05 - 2010 / 18.05 - 2010Moroccan court bails three Western Sahara activists
17.05 - 2010 / 17.05 - 2010Guinness World Records challenged over Moroccan flag stunt
08.05 - 2010 / 08.05 - 2010Beware the Warnings of al Qaeda
06.05 - 2010 / 06.05 - 2010The arms sellers countries extend the conflict in Western Sahara
05.05 - 2010 / 05.05 - 2010Fate abducted Saharawi citizen still unknown
29.04 - 2010 / 29.04 - 2010Second Tier Titans clash on Human Rights in Western Sahara
28.04 - 2010 / 28.04 - 2010France opposing Security Council on Human Rights
27.04 - 2010 / 27.04 - 2010Spain in favour of human rights monitoring in Western Sahara?
22.04 - 2010 / 22.04 - 2010European Parliamentarians demand release WS political prisoners

Africa's last colony Since 1975, three quarters of the Western Sahara territory has been illegally occupied by Morocco. The original population lives divided between those suffering human rights abuses under the Moroccan occupation and those living in exile in Algerian refugee camps. For more than 40 years, the Saharawi await the fulfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
Trailer: Western Sahara, Africa's last colony


Have a look at this teaser for the upcoming documentary "Western Sahara, Africa's last colony". Coming soon.
Book: International Law and the Question of Western Sahara


To our knowledge the first collective book on the legal aspects of the Western Sahara conflict. Available in English and French.