Western Sahara: UN, party to conflict alongside Morocco

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CHAHID EL-HAFED (Sahrawi refugee camps) – Representatives of Sahrawi youth and women said, on Sunday, during a meeting with the personal envoy of the UN Secretary General in Western Sahara, Staffan de Mistura that the UN had become a party to the conflict alongside Morocco in view of its involvement in prolonging the conflict in Western Sahara.

In a statement to APS, a representative of the Saharawi youth, Khelihelna Mohamed Telmidi indicated on the sidelines of de Mistura’s visit to the region, that the Saharawi youth are convinced of the involvement of the UN alongside the Moroccan occupation.

Mr. Khelihelna told the UN envoy that MINURSO had failed to fulfill its main mandate and remained the only UN mission without a human rights monitoring mission.

The practices of the Moroccan Makhzen which encourages the illicit opening of consulates in the occupied part, and the investments of foreign companies as well as the plundering of Saharawi resources in full view of the UN, are all proof for the Saharawi youth of the UN involvement in the conflict, he stressed.

“We do not expect much from the visit of the UN envoy as long as the UN does not stick to the impartiality required in such mediations. We called on de Mistura to submit a report on the situation of the Sahrawi civilian detainees languishing in Moroccan prisons, he added.

For her part, Nana El Rachid, representative of the women who held a meeting with Staffan de Mistura, indicated that the Sahrawi women were also not expecting real progress regarding this visit, stressing that the UN had failed to manage the conflict in Western Sahara.

“The novelty for the Sahrawis is the resumption of the armed struggle to wrest their legitimate right to freedom and independence,” she said, noting unanimity among the women who met de Mistura regarding the commitment to continue the armed struggle until the full liberation of their territories.

Earlier, President of the Sahrawi Republic, Secretary-General of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, received the personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General for Western Sahara. The meeting took place in the presence of the representative of the Polisario at the United Nations, in charge of coordination with MINURSO, Dr. Sidi Mohamed Omar.

Mr. Staffan de Mistura, accompanied by a UN delegation, arrived Saturday in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Smara, as part of his first tour in the region since his appointment last November, where he received popular welcome in the wilaya of Smara.

As part of his visit to the Sahrawi refugee camps, kicked off on Saturday, UN envoy Staffan de Mistura paid visits to a range of health, educational and social structures of the Sahrawi state.

De Mistura held, also, meetings with SADR and Polisario Front officials.

The UN envoy will continue his first tour in the region which will end on January 19, paying a visit to
both Algeria and Mauritania, as neighboring countries and observers, according to the joint settlement plan between the United Nations and the Organization of African Unity (currently the African Union) and the relevant resolutions of the Security Council.

Do note that United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres appointed Staffan de Mistura of Italy as his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara.

The new Personal Envoy succeeds Horst Köhler of Germany, who completed his assignment on 22 May 2019 and to whom the Secretary‑General is grateful for his steadfast and intensive efforts which laid the foundation for a new momentum in the political process on Western Sahara.

Mr. de Mistura brings more than 40 years of experience in diplomacy and political affairs. During his career with the United Nations, he served as Special Envoy of the Secretary‑General for Syria, providing good offices aimed at promoting a peaceful solution to the Syrian crisis. Prior appointments include Special Representative of the Secretary‑General for Afghanistan and for Iraq, Personal Representative of the Secretary‑General for Southern Lebanon and Director of the United Nations Information Centre in Rome. He also served the Organization in various posts in Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Viet Nam and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, among others.

In addition to his service with the United Nations, he was appointed Under secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and thereafter Deputy Foreign Minister in Italy.

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