Courageous Aid Workers

Following the kidnappings of 3 foreign aid workers from the Sahrawi refugee camps last year, a political tension has built up around the issues in neighbouring Mali.
The kidnappers drove up from Mali across the desert to Rabouni and at gunpoint dragged away 2 Spanish and 1 Italian aid worker.
Since this event in late 2011, the numbers of foreign aid workers dropped by 70% leaving the refugees even more vulnerable than they already were.
In spite of the successful release of these hostages a month or so back, over recent weeks, Spain has taken the political decision to remove its last aid workers, based on security intelligence they were getting about movements and further threats from Mali.

However, what Governments may fail to appreciate is the bond between aid worker and refugee families. The aid workers don't go there with any illusions of being 'charitable' they go there because as ordinary, caring human beings, they care for their Sahrawi friends, they care about the injustice that politics has served upon them, they care about the vulnerability the refugees are faced with 24/7 x 365.

So, these aid workers have taken matters into their own hands and under their own steam, travelled back to the camps to a rousing reception of solidarity at the camps.

Some times people are moved beyond self interest, they are compelled to take action and risk their lives in dangerous places, they take this risk with open arms and do so selflessly in the knowledge that they are doing 'the right thing' however wrong that may appear to their peers.

Giving in to terrorist threats is like giving terror permission to spread like a virus around the world. Standing up to it, facing it full on and with compassion for why we do so sends out another message entirely. It says loudly, we are standing with the people and when any of us take a stand like this, you access your real humanity and it cares not for creature comforts, it only cares for the preservation of all life.







Martin





Photos by: Carlos Cristobal

Beth Burgess

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Courageous Aid Workers

"Some times people are moved beyond self interest" And thank god there are still people like this in the world. Stories like this make me feel at once sad but also full of hope. There will always be humanity workers. It is sad that there will always be the need for them, but they will always be there. And that in itself is something to be relieved for and proud of.

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Martin Dewhurst

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Courageous Aid Workers

From Sahara Press Service Spanish aid workers ask their government to reconsider its decision The representatives of organizations, NGOs and universities, that were a part of the delegation that concluded on Friday evening a solidarity visit to the Saharawi refugee camps have asked the Spanish government to reconsider its decision to bring home the aid workers from the Saharawi refugee camps, in a manifesto signed by members of the delegation. "We ask the Spanish government to reconsider its decision to repatriate aid workers from the Saharawi refugee camps, because such withdrawal has a negative influence on humanitarian aid and begins to be felt in the shortage of water supply and basic food for the Saharawi population," stated the manifesto which was read during a dinner hosted at the SADR Presidency headquarters by President Mohamed Abdelaziz honouring of the Spanish delegation. Representatives of Spanish solidarity organizations and the civil society who have travelled to the camps expressed satisfaction with their stay in the camps and the security measures deployed by the Polisario Front. Reading the manifesto on behalf of members of the Spanish delegation of aid workers, Ms Maria Rosa Catalina Vila representing the Valencia Federation urged the Spanish government to "share information with the Saharawi and Algerian authorities, as well as with the MINURSO and international agencies of cooperation in the case of an imminent threat, in order to provide for joint efforts to arrest the terrorists". The signatories of the manifesto indicated that Spain "should not, bearing in mind its historic and political responsibility, abandon the Saharawi people in this emergency situation," adding that such policy of isolation aims "at weakening the resistance of the Saharawi refugees and break the special ties between the Spanish and Saharawi people." They also emphasized the need to find a just and lasting political solution to the Saharawi conflict by allowing the Saharawi people to exercisee their right of self-determination, underlying that all this would provide for peace and prosperity of the region. Ms Vila reaffirmed the commitment of the Spanish organizations and civil society in helping Western Sahara "to accompany the Saharawi people in their struggle for independence," extending thanks to the Saharawi people and government for the hospitality they had been shown during their stay in the camps.

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Martin Dewhurst

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Courageous Aid Workers

Notice the little girl scout, holding a microphone on the bottom picture. To her courage is just the way it is, there's no hiding from the reality. I believe the aid workers draw their strength from the refugees courage.

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Robert Craven

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Courageous Aid Workers

MD So many acts of bravery. RC

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Julia McDaid

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Courageous Aid Workers

Great story Martin, thanks for highlighting this. These guys are indeed brave. Yet that is only a definition. I applaud them for following their hearts, its not about politics, its about humanity I'll bet none of those in government making the decision has been there have they? At the end of the day they can only advise, fortunately in the western world we are mainly free to make our own personal decisions. Some just make bolder decisions than others. The thing is, children are wiser beyond their years and they can see when something is right beyond question I like this too and think there is a lot of truth in it.

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Martin Dewhurst

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Courageous Aid Workers

Yes, I know what you mean. Commitment like this is rewarded with increased levels of protection from the refugees. I recall Lynne Twist describing how she had to wrestle with her consciousness on exactly this issue, of leaving her children behind as she went off to war torn places rife with hunger and danger. She spoke openly with her children and they knew without question what she was called to do, they gave her their total blessing. Very moving story, I will dig it out somehow. The thing is, children are wiser beyond their years and they can see when something is right beyond question.

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Katie-Ellen Hazeldine

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Courageous Aid Workers

They are very brave indeed. Astonishing. Also, perhaps, ruthless in their zeal, to the ones at home who love them. Faced with my children crying with fear because I was going somewhere like that to help other children, I'd have a problem...if it was them, wanting to go, I might keep hiding their passport till they changed their minds. But then, my verry bad.

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