Our host, Jenni Prisk, interviews Fatma Mehdi Hassam, from Western Sahara who has been a refugee in Algeria for nearly 40 years because of the largely forgotten — yet longest running — territorial conflict on the African continent. Within the refugee camp, Mehdi advocates for women’s inclusion in the peace process, government, and public life.
Excerpts from Interview
“I was seven when we were moved from Algeria to the camp in Western Sahara, I have lived there 40 years.”
“According to the UN, the Saharawi (Fatma’s refugee camp in Tindouf, Algeria) are the most organized refugee camp.”
“We have five big houses designed by women, with spaces for classes for the children.”
Biography of Fatma Mehdi Hassam
Fatma has been a refugee in Algeria for almost 40 years, and is the president of the National Union of Saharawi Women and chair of the Women and Gender Cluster of the African Union’s Economic, Social and Cultural Council. Within the refugee community and beyond she has advanced women’s political leadership and peace activism for over three decades.
The interview takes place at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego while Fatma was in residence as a Women PeaceMaker in the Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ).
More About The IPJ Women PeaceMakers Program
Since 2003, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ) at the University of San Diego has welcomed four women peacemakers each year from around the world.
The women reside at the University of San Diego Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies for two months and share their stories which are documented by four Peace Writers. While the women are in residence, “they have opportunities to exchange ideas and approaches to peacemaking and justice, which helps increase their capacity to participate in conflict resolution and peace building efforts.”