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Security Council extends UN mission in Western Sahara through October

Security Council extends UN mission in Western Sahara through October

Calling again on the parties and States of the region to cooperate with the United Nations to end the current impasse in Western Sahara and make headway towards a political solution, the Security Council today extended the UN peacekeeping mission there until the end of October.

Reaffirming its commitment to assist the parties to achieve a just, lasting and mutually acceptable political solution, which will provide for the self determination of the people of Western Sahara, the Security Council unanimously extended the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) through 31 October.

The Council’s action comes after Secretary-General Kofi Annan recently reported that despite the improved political climate in the region, “the stalemate in this long-standing conflict has left tens of thousands of Saharan refugees living in deplorable conditions, relying for their survival on the generosity of the international community.”

On the Council’s request that he examine the possibility of reducing the size of the Mission, Mr. Annan said that he remained convinced that this would not be advisable at this stage. Given the situation on the ground, MINURSO should be in the position to provide adequate and effective monitoring of the ceasefire, he said, calling for the current strength to be maintained, at a minimum, for another six months.

In the resolution adopted today, the Council urged the Frente POLISARIO (Popular Front for the Liberation of the Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro) to release without delay all remaining prisoners of war in compliance with international humanitarian law. It also called upon Morocco and the POLISARIO to continue to cooperate with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to resolve the fate of persons who are unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict.

The Council called on Member States to consider voluntary contributions to fund confidence building measures that allow for increased contact between separated family members, especially family unification visits. It also affirmed the need for full respect of the military agreements reached with MINURSO in regard to the ceasefire.