Gdim Izik Camp

What is affected
Housing private
Tent encampment
Type of violation Forced eviction
Date 25 October 2010
Region MENA [ Middle East/North Africa ]
Country Western Sahara
Location Gdim Izik

Affected persons

Total 15000
Men 0
Women 0
Children 0
Proposed solution


Forced eviction
Housing losses
- Number of homes 6610
- Total value €

Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)

Military occupation army
Brief narrative

UN Secretary-General’s report, SC/2011/2493:

At the beginning of October, a group of Saharan protesters set up an encampment at Gdim Izik, some 15 kilometres south-east of Laayoune, with the intention of making socio-economic demands on the Moroccan authorities. The camp gradually expanded to comprise 6,610 tents, according to an estimate, based on satellite imagery, of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme. The number of protesters, which varied significantly over time, is believed to have reached over 15,000.

4. MINURSO was not able to monitor the situation in the camp because the

Moroccan authorities impeded its access. Attempted military patrols and visits by

United Nations security and police personnel were prevented or stopped on several occasions. Moroccan authorities in Laayoune and at the Permanent Mission of

Morocco to the United Nations protested against MINURSO attempts to approach the camp, advising that the Mission should not interact directly with the population on what was described as a purely internal and social matter. In response to continuing efforts by MINURSO, the Moroccan authorities eventually allowed one international security officer into the camp, on 4 November.

5. These restrictions on movement violated paragraph 13 of the 1999 status-of-mission agreement concluded between the United Nations and Morocco, and interfered with the ability of MINURSO to fulfil its mandate. In addition, the interception of MINURSO military patrols constituted a violation of military agreement No. 1.

6. With a heavy Moroccan security presence and the continued influx of new protesters, the political and security atmosphere in the area gradually deteriorated, particularly after Moroccan forces shot dead a 14-year-old Saharan boy at the camp’s entrance on 24 October in unclear circumstances. As the camp grew in size and the situation became more tense, the United Nations received conflicting information from the parties to the conflict and other sources. Competing communications campaigns by the parties continued until several weeks after the dismantling of the camp.

7. As the days passed, the Government of Morocco held meetings with representatives of the protesters to address their grievances. However, Morocco asserted that some elements were obstructing the implementation of solutions in accordance with what it considered a political and security agenda distinct from the protesters’ social demands. Saharan and Moroccan sources also reported that the dialogue with Morocco was progressing, but that it was being interrupted by the forceful dismantling of the camp. The Frente Popular para la Liberacíon de Saguía el-Hamra y de Río de Oro (Frente Polisario) wrote a number of letters to me alleging violations of the protesters’ human rights by Morocco, and called for my intervention to prevent “an imminent humanitarian catastrophe” and for the establishment of a United Nations mechanism to protect human rights in Western Sahara.

8. On 8 November, despite the previous démarches by my Personal Envoy for

Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, and my Special Representative for Western

Sahara, Hany Abdel-Aziz, towards their Moroccan interlocutors in an attempt to discourage any forceful action against the protesters, Morocco launched a security operation at Gdim Izik. In the early morning hours, Moroccan auxiliary forces and police officers forcefully dispersed the protesters and destroyed the camp using tear gas, water cannons, batons and loudspeakers mounted on vehicles and helicopters.

There is no evidence that live ammunition or other lethal means were used. Violence immediately erupted in the city of Laayoune, with groups of Saharans taking to the streets to protest against the raid, amid rumours of a high death toll, throwing improvised explosives and stones against Moroccan forces and attacking public and private buildings. Later that day, groups of Moroccans attacked Saharan civilian homes and their residents.

9. The unrest which persisted before receding in the following days, resulted in significant casualties and property damage. The United Nations could not verify either party’s account of the casualties. MINURSO visited the site of the camp on 11 November but, under the circumstances, was not able to obtain a clear picture of the exact number of protesters, the conditions in the camp before it was dismantled or the number of casualties.

10. The violence in the aftermath of the dismantling of the camp caused injury to two United Nations staff and damage to two MINURSO vehicles. MINURSO had earlier noted an increase in the number of small security incidents involving United Nations staff and property in the period prior to 8 November. The Mission took enhanced security measures at its Laayoune headquarters and at team sites.

11. On 29 November, following the violence in Laayoune, the Governor of

Laayoune, Mohamed Jelmous, was replaced with Khalil Dkhil, the first Saharan to hold the post. Morocco also replaced the head of its gendarmerie in Laayoune and conducted a parliamentary inquiry into the Laayoune events.

12. The Government of Morocco and the Frente Polisario have written a number of letters to me to convey their respective accounts of the events at Gdim Izik. In a letter dated 25 January, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Morocco, Taieb Fassi-Fihri, provided me with the conclusions of a parliamentary commission of inquiry that had investigated the events. The commission had concluded that the protesters’ “purely social demands” had been “instrumentalized by terrorists and former criminals as part of a plan supported by Algeria and targeting Morocco’s unity and stability” (see para. 93).

13. Since the events at Gdim Izik, the general situation in the Territory has

remained tense, particularly between the Saharan population and Moroccan forces.

Several small demonstrations have been reported in Laayoune, Smara and Boujdour,

with allegations of repression and detention by Moroccan forces, but MINURSO has

not been able to verify those reports. On 26 February, in Dakhla, on the eve of the

thirty-fifth anniversary of the “Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic”, unrest between

Saharan protesters and Moroccan civilians led to the injury of several people and destruction of property.

14. Early in January, Morocco claimed that it had dismantled a 27-member terrorist ring with arms caches some 220 kilometres from Laayoune and 35 kilometres west of the berm, alleging that foreign elements from Al-Qaida in the Maghreb cells might have infiltrated Western Sahara. This information, which would suggest a deterioration of the security situation, could not be corroborated by MINURSO.


Gdim Izik, le campement hétéroclite à l’origine des émeutes au Sahara

AFP le 15 Novembre 2010

Laâyoune - Des piquets métalliques, des ustensiles de cuisine, des bonbonnes de gaz calcinées: ce sont les vestiges du camp de Gdim Izik, dont le démantèlement il y a une semaine a entraîné une flambée de violence meurtrière dans le Sahara occidental.

Alignées en rangées régulières, quelques 3.000 tentes ont abrité pendant plusieurs semaines une population fluctuante, qui pouvait atteindre 15.000 personnes la journée, quelques milliers la nuit, selon les observateurs des Nations unies à Laâyoune, la capitale du Sahara occidental, ancienne colonie espagnole annexée par le Maroc en 1975.L’idée d’origine était de transmettre un message aux autorités: les Sahraouis en ont marre de vivre dans la misère alors que leur région est pleine de ressources, donc ils vont renouer avec leur origine bédouine et vivre sous la tente, plutôt que dans une ville dont les autorités nous négligent, explique Ahmed (un pseudonyme), membre d’une association de jeunes cadres sahraouis.

Des jeunes arborant des badges d’identification, équipés de véhicules tout-terrain, de jumelles et de moyens de communication assuraient le service d’ordre du camp, situé à 12 km de Laâyoune, dont ils contrô laient soigneusement les accès, sous le regard des gendarmes marocains disposés à quelques centaines de mètres.

Un peu dépassés par leur succès, les organisateurs éprouvaient quelques difficultés à assurer l’intendance et les autorités fournissaient quotidiennement plusieurs citernes d’eau potable. En l’absence de sanitaires, les conditions d’hygiène étaient délicates, selon plusieurs observateurs.

Un premier incident grave s’est déroulé le 25 octobre, lorsqu’un adolescent de 14 ans a été tué lors d’une échauffourée avec les forces de l’ordre, qui dénonçaient la présence de criminels de droit commun parmi les habitants.

C’est après que les choses ont commencé à prendre des proportions qui n’étaient plus maîtrisables, avec l’infiltration de séparatistes du Front Polisario (qui milite pour l’indépendance du territoire, ndlr) et de criminels notoires, juge Mohamed Jelmous, wali (préfet) de la région de Laâyoune.

Mais l’intervention des forces de sécurité, à l’aube du 8 novembre, a dégénéré en violents affrontements autour du camp, puis en une émeute qui a embrasé Laâyoune, où plusieurs administrations et commerces ont été mis à sac et incendiés. Dix membres des forces de l’ordre et deux civils ont été tués, selon les autorités marocaines, tandis que le Polisario évoque un grand nombre de victimes, sans donner leurs identités.

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