Security Council extends UN's Western Sahara mission through January 2003
The United Nations Security Council today extended the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) through the end of January 2003, while calling on the parties - the POLISARIO Front and Morocco - to cooperate fully with efforts to resolve their longstanding dispute.
Specifically, the Council called on the two sides to work constructively with Secretary-General Kofi Annan and his Personal Envoy to the region, James Baker III. The Council also invited Mr. Baker to pursue efforts to find a political solution and voiced its readiness to consider any approach which provides for self-determination.
The Council set up MINURSO in 1991 to implement a Settlement Plan between the two sides aimed at allowing the people of the Territory to participate in a referendum to determine whether Western Sahara should be independent or integrated with Morocco. Despite extensive preparations, the conditions for holding the referendum have never been met.
Today's resolution also addressed the humanitarian situation, calling upon the parties to collaborate with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in the implementation of confidence-building measures, and to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross to tackle the fate of those unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict.
The Council also urged the international community to "provide generous support to UNHCR and the World Food Programme in order to hep them overcome the deteriorating food situation among the refugees." In addition, it welcomed the recent release of more than 100 Moroccan prisoners of war and called upon the POLISARIO Front to release without delay all those who remain in captivity.