New York - The new draft resolution on the Western Sahara calls on Morocco and the Polisario to step up their efforts in order to reach a political and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
New York – The new draft resolution on the Western Sahara calls on Morocco and the Polisario to step up their efforts in order to reach a political and mutually acceptable solution to the Western Sahara conflict.
The UN Security Council is set to hold a plenary meeting next Tuesday to adopt a new resolution that will renew for one more year the mandate of the United Nations Mission in the Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, until April 30, 2016.
The draft resolution, which is usually drafted by the United States, the penholder of the resolution, has been circulated to the 15 members of the Council, diplomatic sources told Morocco World News on Wednesday.
As in recent years, the draft resolution does not include any provision for the establishment of a human rights monitoring mechanism in the Sahara and the Tindouf camps, while calls on the parties to undertake more intensive efforts efforts to reach a mutually acceptable political solution.
The draft resolution calls on Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front “enter into a more intensive and substantive phase of negotiations” with a view to reaching a political solution.
This solution “will provide for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,” the resolution says, in an apparent reference to demands by the Polisario Front for a referendum on statehood.
It also praises the efforts made by the Moroccan government in recent years to improve the situation of human rights in the territory.
The Security Council is, thus, dismissing the African Unions calls for an amendment of the MINURSO’s mandate to include a human rights monitoring mechanism in the Western Sahara.
The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released on Friday April 11 his annual report on the situation in the Western Sahara.
The report makes no recommendation to the Security Council to extend the mandate of the MINURSO to include a human rights monitoring system in the Sahara and the Tindouf camps.
However, while commending the “positive steps that Morocco has taken on the protection of human rights,” including the adoption of a new code on military justice and the accession to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against torture, the report calls for “independent and impartial understanding” of human rights in the Western Sahara.
Ban Ki-moon’s report highlights the need to conduct a census in the Tindouf camps.
“I note continuing questions about the number of refugees requiring assistance. These highlight the need to address the registration of the refugee population,” the UN chief said in paragraph 77 of his annual report.
This is the first time the UNSG’s annual report on the territorial dispute has included a recommendation calling for a census in the Tindouf camps.
Conducting a census in the camps has been a longstanding request from the Moroccan government, which has long accused Algeria and the Polisario of inflating the number of people said to be living there.
While the number provided by Algeria and the Polisario is around 155,000 people, a number of organizations estimate the actual number not to exceed 90,000 people.
A report released last February by the European Union Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) showed that humanitarian aid extended by the EU ended up in the black markets”in Algeria, Mauritania, and Mali.
According to the 250-page report, fraud was made possible by the overestimation of the population in the Tindouf camps. The UNHCR does not have an updated census of these populations due to the “Polisario’s refusal for the last 39 years to allow a census.”
The OLAF report harshly criticized Algeria and the Polisario for embezzling humanitarian aid for decades to the detriment of the Saharawis living in the Tindouf camps.
The report noted that the systematic embezzlement occurs in the Algerian port of Oran where a large portion of the humanitarian aid is diverted away from the intended beneficiaries in the camps.