Rabat – United Nations Deputy Secretary General Herve Ladsous will travel to Rabat and the Laayoune this week to cheer up U.N. personnel working there, according to remarks made at the organization’s headquarters in New York on Monday.
“I am going there for the sake of the morale of [U.N.] soldiers” working for MINURSO, Ladsous said earlier this week. He will begin his trip in Rabat for talks with Moroccan officials, then visit Laayoune and Algeria.
Ladsous assists Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the oversight of the U.N’s 16 peacekeeping operations, including MINURSO, which was founded in 1991 after the international organization brokered a cease-fire agreement between the separatist Polisario Front and Morocco following a 16-year war.
Tensions between Rabat and the U.N. reached historic highs in March, when Ki-moon referred to the kingdom’s presence in the Western Sahara – Morocco’s Southern Provinces – as a an “occupation” after visiting refugee camps hosting displaced Sahrawi people in Tindouf, Algeria.
Morocco asked MINURSO personnel to leave their offices in Laayoune and Dakhla as a political reaction to Ki-moon’s comments, despite the top diplomat’s delayed apology.
Ki-moon and his personal representative, Christopher Ross, have marginally improved their relationship with Rabat in recent months, which allowed the mission’s staff to return to their offices in Laayoune and Dakhla in July after four months of working in exile.
Ladsous will also be visiting the Tindouf camps, which sit on the Algeria-Morocco border under the grip of the Polisario and its allies in Algiers.