- A third international shipping company has bowed into pressure to quit its assignments in ports in occupied Western Sahara. The Hong Kong-based shipping company Jinhui Shipping thus follows Norway's two shipping companies Arnesen Shipbrokers and R-Bulk, which have stopped shipping out phosphates from the territory. More are expected to follow.
In February, Jinhui Shipping was exposed to be involved in transporting phosphates from Western Sahara, a territory occupied by Morocco. Video footage from New Zealand showed the phosphates being discharged there. The extraction and export of natural resources from Western Sahara has been deemed illegal by the UN and violates the wishes of the people of Western Sahara, the Sahrawis.
Pro-Sahrawi activist groups since have directed their campaigns against the Hong Kong shipping company, which technically is registered at the Oslo Stock Exchange. The daily newspaper 'South China Morning Post' now reports that the lobbying has born fruits. "Being headquartered in Asia, we confess we knew nothing about Western Sahara. We have only had this one charter ... but now that we understand the issue we will not directly contract any more business out of there," Jinhui Shipping vice-president, Raymond Ching, told the newspaper.
Thereby, a total of three shipping companies who have confirmed they do not longer want to take on new business in Western Sahara. It started with Norway's Arnesen Shipbrokers in November 2007, and thereafter Jinhui and R-Bulk of Bergen, Norway, in May.
The involvement of the shipping company R-Bulk was discovered only last week, after one of their vessels had transported phosphates from the occupied country to Colombia. "We have of course raised this issue with the shipping company that has chartered the vessel, so that they can do their utmost to prevent this from happening again in the future", chairman of R-Bulk, said to Norwegian state broadcaster 'NRK'.
Earlier, Yara, the world's leading fertilizer producer, made a public statement promising it would stop importing phosphates from Western Sahara. Mineral phosphates are one of the leading sources for fertilizer products globally.
Pro-Sahrawi activists now feel their campaigns to stop the controversial shipping out of phosphates is gaining momentum, with two Norwegian and one Chinese company having promised to halt operations. The Japanese Western Sahara Association earlier this week sent a letter to the Japanese shipping company Sanko Lines, urging it to respect "international legality, human rights and basic standards of corporate social responsibility" by announcing a halt to Western Sahara shipments. A Sanko Line vessel in April transported phosphates from Western Sahara to Colombia.
Also a South Korean shipping company that transported phosphates from Western Sahara to the US market in April this year is now being singled out by activists for lobbying.
The phosphate trade from occupied Western Sahara is controversial and most probably in violation of international law, according to UN assessments. Since the 1970s, phosphates have been the biggest revenue sources for Moroccan occupant authorities in the territory. Activists claim these revenues directly finance the occupation and the resettlements of Moroccans into the territory.
Rising from around 50 dollars a tonne in April 2007, to around 400 dollars today, the international phosphate prize has doubled eight-fold in just over one year. The annual income from the Moroccan phosphate industry in occupied Western Sahara therefore amounts to around US$ 1.2 billion.
afrol News - It is called "financial inclusion", and it is a key government policy in Rwanda. The goal is that, by 2020, 90 percent of the population is to have and actively use bank accounts. And in only four years, financial inclusion has doubled in Rwanda.
afrol News - The UN's humanitarian agencies now warn about a devastating famine in Sudan and especially in South Sudan, where the situation is said to be "imploding". Relief officials are appealing to donors to urgently fund life-saving activities in the two countries.
afrol News - Fear is spreading all over West Africa after the health ministry in Guinea confirmed the first Ebola outbreak in this part of Africa. According to official numbers, at least 86 are infected and 59 are dead as a result of this very contagious disease.
afrol News - It is already a crime being homosexual in Ethiopia, but parliament is now making sure the anti-gay laws will be applied in practical life. No pardoning of gays will be allowed in future, but activist fear this only is a signal of further repression being prepared.
afrol News / Africa Renewal - Ethiopia's ambitious plan to build a US$ 4.2 billion dam in the Benishangul-Gumuz region, 40 km from its border with Sudan, is expected to provide 6,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for its population plus some excess it can sell to neighbouring countries.