Laura Gilbie

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in a recent address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia, “all fit young people should be ... expected to persevere for six months to find a job or to choose a further training programme before accessing welfare payments”.

The government’s stubbornness in persisting with the changes to Newstart Allowance for job-seekers under 30 ignores the advice from welfare agencies and other parties that it will lead to poverty or crime, not increased employment.

After two decades of political deadlock, Africa’s oldest refugee population is losing faith in UN mandated peace negotiations.

“No one will give us our freedom — we must take it!,” Sahrawi journalist Embarka Elmehdi Said told Green Left Weekly.

Said sees little hope for a peaceful resolution to the crisis that has gripped Western Sahara since its independence from Spain in the 1970s.

A child when her family fled the Moroccan invasion of Western Sahara in 1975, Said has spent most of her life in the Polisario run refugee camps on the Western Sahar-Algeria border.

Ryan Mallett-Outtrim & Laura Gilbie

The self-immolation of five activists in January briefly brought international attention to growing unrest in Morocco, evidenced by the mass demonstrations that began a year ago.

It is in the capital, however, where political rallies have become something of a permanent fixture.

Three times a week, the well-tended boulevards of the Moroccan capital are overrun with dissatisfied tertiary graduates, demanding jobs.

The rallies can last for up to six hours.

Laayoune is the largest settlement in Western Sahara territory, which has been occupied by Morocco since 1975.

The Sahrawi people continue to demand independence after decades of poor treatment under Moroccan rule. Many Sahrawi report being routinely subjected to police brutality and say they suffer widespread discrimination.

Activists in Laayoune face a day-to-day struggle with local authorities. The city is touted by the Moroccan government as a regional development hub, but from the ground looks more like an infantry barracks.

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