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Ban voices concern over health of Saharawi activist on hunger strike

Ban voices concern over health of Saharawi activist on hunger strike

Aminatou Haidar.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has held talks with the Foreign Minister of Morocco to voice his “grave” concern over an independence activist from Western Sahara who has been on hunger strike since last month.

Aminatou Haidar began her protest at the airport at Lanzarote, on Spain's Canary Islands, after being denied entry into her native Western Sahara in mid-November.

Mr. Ban spoke with Moroccan Foreign Minister Taib Fassi Fihri on Friday to reiterate the United Nation's willingness to take any appropriate action necessary to find a solution to Ms. Haider's situation, in a discussion that touched on the increasing political tension in the region.

Fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after Spain's colonial administration of Western Sahara ended in 1976. Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy, while the Frente Polisario's position is that the territory's final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.

Last month, Mr. Ban voiced concern over the tensions between the parties to status talks after the recent detention of several groups of Saharawi activists. A UN mission in Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, is entrusted with monitoring a ceasefire reached in September 1991 and organizing a referendum on self-determination.