After the Spanish adoptive family of a young Sahrawi woman, living in San Miguel de Salinas, who had been kidnapped and forcibly detained in the Tindouf camps, filed a complaint against Algeria with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, it now seems as though Koria Badbad Hafed could be close to being released.

Seven years ago, in January 2011, the young Koria was kidnapped by her father in the Aaiun, one of five Sahrawi camps of Tindouf (a Province in Algeria). She was held just a few hours before catching her flight back to Spain after a family visit since, which time Koria has remained isolated and incommunicado in the town of Mijek, in Western Sahara, under the control of the Polisario Front, a Sahrawi rebel national liberation movement aiming to end Moroccan presence in the Western Sahara.

San Miguel girl kidnapped in Algeria close to release
San Miguel girl kidnapped in Algeria close to release

Koria moved to San Miguel where she lived for ten and a half years for medical reasons, but at the beginning of 2011 the young Saharawi woman saw her life projects abruptly halted, her medical treatment suspended and any opportunity to finish her studies cancelled. She was kidnapped by her father to live a life imposed according to the beliefs and culture that he says will make her “worthy”.

Her time in San Miguel had been spent living with her adopted mother, Bienvenida Campillo Lorca, who used the occasion of International Women’s Day, last Thursday, to once again appeal for the release of her daughter so that “no one will forget about Koria and the other women who are held against their will in the Sahrawi camps.”

“A few days ago,” according to Campillo, “the new delegate of the Polisario Front in the Community, Habibullah Mohamed, told me that he was aware of the case, that he had dealt with the PSOE and that they are all working on Koria’s release. However, I’m not sure that I believe him,” she said.

For Bienvenida Campillo, the celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8 is a suitable opportunity to reinforce the demands for women’s rights, that include the requirement to “eliminate the stigmatisation and discrimination of biological families towards Saharawi women who have lived for a long time in Spain”, and as well as that “the Valencian institutions and the whole of the Spanish State must insist on a solution for these cases of the illegal retention of adult women, currently more than 50 of them, many of whom, like Koria, are Spanish citizens who is legally entitled to the same rights of protection as everyone else living in Spain.

Bienvenida also recently met up with Xelo Angulo Luna, the president of “Fons per la Solidaritat”, an association formed by town councils and associations of all the political formations of the Valencian Community that works toward the obtaining the repatriation to Spain of Saharawi women. She explained the circumstances surrounding the kidnap and abduction of Koria who was under the legal guardianship of the Generalitat Valenciana at the time and who continues to be held against her will, isolated and incommunicado in the territory of Western Sahara controlled by the Polisario Front.