quarta-feira, 8 de outubro de 2008

Belgium involved in illegal phosphate trade

These last days, a vessel has been unloading phosphates from the occupied Western Sahara at the harbour of Ghent (Belgium). The importer of these phosphates is believed to be chemical giant BASF.

Ten days ago, the Novigrad left the harbour of El Aaiún, the capital of occupied Western Sahara. The vessel carried 25.000 tons of phosphates originating from the Bu Craa mines, that are also located in the territories occupied by Morocco.

This week, the Croatian flagged vessel arrived at the harbour of Ghent, where it was unloaded. According to sources in Belgium the importer of the phosphates is BASF.

Today , the international price for phosphates is about 490 US $ per ton, which would mean that BASF should have paid 12.2 million US $ for the Saharan phosphates. This sum of money, however, will not have gone to the Sahrawi people nor the Saharan government, but will be transferred to the Moroccan state-owned phosphate company OCP (Office Chérifien des Phosphates). If our Belgian sources are right, it would mean that BASF has thus paid an occupying power for the illegal and unethical exploitation of non-renewable resources from an occupied territory.

Doing business with the Moroccan authorities regarding the natural resources of Western Sahara is highly unethical and politically controversial. Furthermore, the exploitation and trade of these resources constitutes a violation of international law, as is clearly stated in e.g. UN Legal Opinion S/2002/161.

The Belgian WSRW branch, Solidariteitsgroep Westelijke Sahara, has contacted BASF today, but the company was unable to confirm the alleged import and told us that any comment would have to be obtained from Germany.

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