2011 Photo Contest, Portraits, Stories, 1st prize

The Last Colony

Photographer

Andrew McConnell

16 September, 2009

The Saharawi people of Western Sahara have been involved in a decades-long dispute for independence, in land controlled by Morocco along the border with Algeria.

About

Andrew McConnell

Andrew McConnell was born 1977 and began his career as a press photographer covering the closing stages of the conflict in Northern Ireland and the transition to peace. In 2004, ...

Background story

Lahbieb Embarek Ahmed, aged 47, a Saharawi refugee, camps in Algeria.

The Saharawi people of Western Sahara have been involved in a decades-long dispute for independence, in land controlled by Morocco along the border with Algeria. A former Spanish colony, Western Sahara is Africa’s last open file at the United Nations Decolonization Committee. Morocco invaded the territory in 1975, forcing the Spanish to withdraw. Spain divided the land between Morocco and Mauritania.

A Saharawi rebel group, the Polisario Front, which had formed earlier to fight the Spanish, began a guerilla war against the new occupiers, with the backing of Algeria, and forced the withdrawal of Mauritania in 1979. In the 1980s, Morocco built a 2,700-kilometer-long sand barrier and planted it with mines, dividing Western Sahara in two. Most Saharawi live in the inland desert behind this barrier, or in refugee camps in Algeria.

Technical information

Shutter Speed
1/3 s
Focal length
24 mm
F-Stop
f/6.3
ISO
200

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