Belgian ex-Senator runs in sand dunes for Sahrawi peoples' rights
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On the 25th of February, the Sahrawi refugees will host the 8th edition of the Sahara Marathon in their refugee camps in western Algeria. The refugees have been living in the camps since Morocco illegally occupied their home country in 1975.

Published 06 February 2008

Former Belgian senator Jacinta De Roeck - as the first Belgian contender ever - will participate in this event, which is taking place in the desert sand between the Sahrawi camps. The marathon is an international sports event to demonstrate solidarity with the Sahrawi people, and is taking place in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. The place is often ridden by sand storms, and in the summer, the temperatures reach above +50 degrees C.

"The fact that I'm running this race is a modest attempt to gather attention for a cause that is loosing the awareness in the international community. We must do all in our power to spread the word regarding the terrible conditions under which the Sahrawi refugees are living, and about the injustice that is caused upon them. The Sahrawi refugees has a legitimate right of return home to a free Western Sahara, but Morocco will not accept that", said De Roeck. 


More than 100 resolutions by the UN Security Council and General Assembly supports the Sahrawi people's right to self-determination. A UN force is present in Western Sahara to arrange a referendum for independence, but Morocco refuses to let it taking place. 

“Morocco is systematically obstructing the UN peace process, in order to gain time and control over Western Sahara. We cannot accept that, and must support the refugees’ peaceful struggle for freedom from occupation”, said De Roeck. 

Until the 10th of June, De Roeck was the president of the Belgian Parliamentary Body "Peace for the Sahraoui-people". She has also organised several conferences about this topic in the Belgian Senate. 

De Roeck is the president of the newly founded Belgian branch of the international network organisation Western Sahara Resource Watch, called "Solidariteitsgroep Westelijke Sahara". 

If you wish further information, you can always send an email to If you wish to contact Jacinta De Roeck, you can send an email to or call on 0032 (0)475-75-93-53. You can also make a donation to support our newly founded organisation - contributions can be made on the account 363-0266286-61. 

Paper deposit IBAN: IBAN BE62 3630 2662 8661 Digital IBAN: BE62363026628661 BIC: BBRUBEBB

Sahara Marathon
Run by the Sahrawi sport committee and organized by volunteers from all over the world, the Sahara Marathon, which along with the standard-distance marathon also includes the shorter distances of 21km, 10km and 5km and a race for children, is aimed at promoting sport activity among young Sahrawis and financing a humanitarian program, which this year will be the completion of the sports centre and the building of a workshop for recycled materials.

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