Sunday, 27 January 2013

Cancelled - The terrorists win

This last week, amid many emails between myself, John, Sandblast and various communities online and on facebook the Saharawi authorities have decided the postpone/cancel the marathon

Here is the official statement from the Sahara Marathon organisers:

"The Saharawi Government and the organizing committee of the Sahara Marathon have agreed to postpone the Sahara Marathon 2013 by major causes outside the organization. As is well known, the recent war in Mali and the tragic kidnapping occurred in Algeria, have caused a huge international social alarm that forced us to take this sad decision. Given the instability in the region and threats of further violence from terrorist groups against Western targets, the Saharawi government temporarily paralyzed all the visa processes and have repatriated all the displaced social workers. In these circumstances and knowing the diffusion of the Sahara Marathon in the media should be irresponsible to travel to Algerian territory with a group of nearly 200 runners from over 20 countries. Furthermore, most of these countries have made serious appeals to their citizens not to travel to the area.

Sahrawi and Algerian authorities have done a commendable job as far as security is concerned in recent months, but the organization ofa long distance race in these conditions required an enormous logistic and financial effort, which morally we cannot demand to a people surviving in refugees camps. With all the measures taken by the authorities, the goal is to avoid any risk to the solidary runners and Saharawi people themselves.
With the conviction that this instability in the area should be temporary, we hope to make soon a new call for the next Sahara Marathon, a race with a huge international reputation thanks to the support of the runners and the hospitality they receive from theSaharawi families. The organizers and the Sahrawi Ministry of Youth and Sports will go on with some actions to support the humanitarian projects of the Sahara Marathon. The first is the organization in the coming days of the children’s races and other local activities for major victims of this situation that are the Sahrawi refugees. Furthermore we will convene in different European cities charitable races under the umbrella of the Sahara Marathon, with the aim, among others, to raise funds to send a truck with all the sports equipment and solidarity that we have received. The great sadness that means for the team and for the runners who prepared the trip excited, cannot weaken our commitment and work to help these people and to demand the justice denied for 38 years to Western Sahara .
For you, who were registered to join us in this unique solidarity experience, we can only apologize for the inconvenience and disappointment that we know that this suspension entails, but we hope you can understand the situation created by these international events with unusual severity."

Obviously I'm very disappointed as I was really looking forward to going and spending a week with the refugees not to mention leaving me hanging mid-training.

Fortunately, the money we've raised already, and the laptop from Computers 4 Africa, will still go to help the Saharawi though I won't be there to see it being put to use, so thank you very much - your donations have not been wasted :-)

The terrorists have won.

They have stopped people from doing the things they really want to do. They are causing even more anguish for the Saharawi and we are left feeling useless and frustrated :-(

John and I are in the process of planning a marathon of our own and we will be keeping you posted and asking for your support as and when we know what we're doing, where and when. I can promise you though that we'll make it as anti-terrorist as possible :-p

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