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ESU defends people’s rights in Western Sahara to education

ZAGREB – The European Students’ Union (ESU) expresses its solidarity to the Western Sahara Students’ Union (UESARIO) and draws attention to the human rights violations taking place in that area.

At the 65th Board Meeting of ESU, held in Zagreb, Croatia, the representatives of 47 national unions of students adopted a resolution where they reaffirmed their common vision of higher education as a human right that everyone should have access to. All students should have the freedom to choose their field of study and pursue higher education.

Unfortunately, there are many shortcomings in this regard in Western Sahara, a territory occupied by Morocco since 1975 and divided by a wall of 2.800 kilometres. It is believed that this wall is guarded by 160.000 soldiers and that around eight million landmines surround it.

Many of the people have been forced to leave the country to refugee camps in Algeria, where they have resided for numerous years. The ones who have stayed in the occupied territory face human rights violations on a daily basis.

Dreadful conditions for many students

UESARIO organises summer programmes for students and youth in the refugee camps, but their work is not easy. They face challenges such as not having proper headquarters for their work; not being able to finance their summer programmes; or not having enough information or training opportunities. Their work is carried out at the refugee camps, which is a challenging task.

Some of the young people are allowed to go and study in the neighbouring countries, but they are not given the right to choose what or where to study. The students sometimes face assassinations and imprisonments and in most cases they are banned from university registration or their diplomas are not recognised officially. In practice, this means that when a Saharawi graduates from a university abroad, as there are no possibilities for higher education in Western Sahara, and returns to the occupied territory, the degree is not officially recognised. As a consequence, these young people face a wide-ranging discrimination and their right to a decent and dignified life is violated.

See the full version of the resolution here.

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For more information, please contact:

Rok Primozic, ESU’s Chairperson: +32/479.126.390 // or Robert Hlynur Baldursson, ESU
Communications Manager: +32/473.669.894 //

The European Students’ Union, headquartered in Brussels, is the umbrella organisation of 47 national unions of students from 39 European countries. ESU represents and promotes the educational, social, economical and cultural interests of students at the European level. Through its member unions, ESU represents over 11 million students in Europe. To find out more about ESU, follow us on Twitter @ESUtwt, check out or Facebook page or visit ESU celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2012.


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