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Abstract

In September 1997, Norwegian People's Aid began efforts to assist Saharawi refugees living in southwest Algeria to return safely to their country. While the mid-Seventies are best known for the exit of Portuguese colonization from the continent of Africa and the subsequent problems that arose, the exit of Spanish forces from the area of Western Sahara brought its own legacy of war, landmines and UXO. The war saw Morocco, Frente POLISARIO, the Front for the Liberation of Saguia el Hamra and Rio de Oro, and in the beginning Mauritania as well, battle for control of the former Spanish holding. The war, which lasted from 1976 to 1991 when the United Nations brokered a cease-fire, resulted in a territory divided between Morocco and Frente POLISARIO by defensive walls, known as berms, constructed by the Moroccans fortified with mines and substantial contamination from mines and UXO throughout the rest of the territory.

 

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