United Nations Petition




Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of this committee.

I come to you as a non-governmental, humanitarian American.   I have spent much time in the Saharawi refugee camps near Tindouf since my 1999.  During that first visit, I was approached by two United Nations personnel, working on a list of legally identified Saharawi adults who could be included in the pending referendum.  Of course, I did not qualify to be on that list.  That was 20 years ago, carried out by United Nations personnel!   What happened to all that documentation of the adults in the camps who could cast their vote  for their own futures?  What happened to your promise?

This was under your watch.

There has been no referendum.  That was the agreement for which they laid down their arms, fighting to return to their homeland free of Morocco’s occupation and control.  This has been under the UN’s watch.

It has now been 20 years of personalinvolvement for me, leading our humanitarian work in the camps.  I have also overseen dozens of volunteers who have been an on-going presence among the refugees for 15 years.  That represents hundreds of eye-witnesses of the realities in the refugee camps, with experience of allof their realities.  We have witnessed and livedtheir reality.

Under your watch, there has been no referendum.

Under your watch there is steadily decreasing food in the camps.

Under your watch, the refugees in the camps continue to receive news of family members suffering brutalhuman rights abuses, even death, by Moroccan troops.

This situation continues to be a horrible travesty by governments, including the UN, against a nation that was forcibly displaced by the invasions of Morocco and Mauritania, and with the cooperation of Spain at the time.  Mauritania and Spain chose to do the right thing and leave the conflict decades ago.  Morocco has chosen the opposite course and become brutaly entrenched in the homeland of the Saharawi people.

I have made it a practice to ask the common people living in the camps what they remember of their country…Western Sahara.  One of those stories I want to tell you now….

Muna was 5 years old. One morning, she saw her father come rushing through the front door, hurriedly spoke with her mother, and then watched her mom and dad begin frantically packing clothes, food, water and important papers.  She did not know what was happening.  Her mom gathered Muna’s baby sister and bigger brothers, giving them  belongings to carry, and rushed out the door to their car. Muna, wide-eyed and beginning to cry, was taken by her daddy’s strong hand and pulled out their front door.  He locked the door…their blue front door, trying to be calm and told Muna they must hurry.  He said they would come back soon.

Holding her father’s hand, Muna’s little legs had a hard time keeping up.  She began to cry.  Looking back at her home, her eyes fixed upon the blue door.   With her final view, she made herself a promise.  “Someday I will come back, and I will find my blue door,  and I will be home.”

Muna still waits. She longs to see her blue door again. Now, without her mother and father who died waiting in the camps years ago, she waits for her promise to come true….to return to her home in freedom, now with her own children, to find her blue door, … walk through it and finally be HOME, as a nation.

Under yourwatch, I  BEG you to MOVE this thing.  Do what is right.  Go there…talk to the people….see for yourselves the horrible injustice that the United Nations has been a part of for decades now, yet with NO justice or resolve. 


Janet Lenz

International Faith and Peace Dialogues

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