Nothing is going well between the two brotherly and neighbouring countries of Algeria and Morocco. In addition to the differences between the authorities of the two countries, Moroccan farmers have had their share of the cake. They were expelled by the Algerian authorities from a border area between their country and Algeria where they were growing their crops.
Several hundred demonstrators marched Thursday in Figuig, southeastern Morocco, to protest Algeria’s expulsion of Moroccan farmers traditionally allowed to grow dates in the border area. The area, known to Moroccans as Arjal and to Algerians as the Laaroda oasis, has been closed since 1994. Moroccan farmers claim ownership of what they consider their land.
« We are here for our land in El Arja that Algeria took from us. These lands go back centuries, with palm trees that are centuries old, others were planted between 1960 and 1970, and those of my generation that we planted 30 years ago, » says a Moroccan farmer who is participating in the demonstration.
Algiers had given the « Moroccan farmers exploiting these Algerian lands an agreed deadline to leave the area » and closed the border post at midnight on Wednesday. For the inhabitants of Figuig, the decision of the Algerian authorities is fraught with consequences for their locality.
« I believe that it is not only the investors who feel aggrieved in this story, but also the workers. The only means of subsistence for the population of the town of Figuig is agriculture, we don’t have any factories or businesses, palm trees and agriculture are the only resources of the local population, » Mohamed Jabbari, a resident of Figuig, told Africanews.
On the Moroccan side, the regional authorities organised a meeting this week with the population concerned to « examine possible solutions to mitigate the repercussions » of this « temporary and conjunctural » decision, according to an official statement issued by the Moroccan website Media24.
The demonstrators intended to go to the border yesterday, Thursday, near the disputed agricultural area of Arjal (known as Ouahat Laaroda in Algeria) but were stopped on their way by an imposing police blockade.