The UN secretary-general, Antonio Guterres, submitted his report concerning the situation on Western Sahara to the Security Council on October 3.
The report offers the Security Council a summary of the activities of both Morocco and Polisario in Western Sahara, as well as an overview of the MINURSO mission in the region.
In his report, which comes weeks before the end of the mandate of the UN mission in Western Sahara, also known as MINURSO, Guterres pinpointed human rights concerns in the Tindouf camps.
Funding concerns for Sahrawis in Tindouf
First, the UN chief recalled the frustration and anger among the Sahrawi population in the Tindouf camps “at the lack of progress in the political process,” as well as “persistent difficulties, such as malnutrition, brought about by the steady reductions in humanitarian aid.”.
Throughout the years of the conflict, the Sahrawi population of the Tindouf camps in western Algeria have denounced the embezzlement of humanitarian aid directed to the refugees.
Pro-Polisario news outlets, including Futuro Sahara, reported that Sahrawis were surprised to find popular aid products on display in Algerian grocery shops.
In the sixth section of the report, the UN chief spoke further about malnutrition. “Malnutrition and anaemia prevalence remained public health concerns,” he wrote.
According to the UN chief, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), are collaborating to provide humanitarian assistance to the population.
“The main challenge for humanitarian actors remained the funding shortfall. In May 2018, the three agencies along with 11 international NGOs launched an appeal,” said the report.
The report also recalled that the United Nations Human Rights Committee along with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) have “raised concern about the ‘de facto devolution of authority to the Frente Polisario in Tindouf camps, especially jurisdictional authority.'”
The report noted that victims of violations in the Tindouf camps “do not have access to an effective remedy in the State Party’s courts.”
The report comes just before the Security Council will decide on the mandate of MINURSO in Western Sahara.
The Security Council will convene at the end of this month to consider a possible extension of the UN mission in the region.
Guterres is in favor of a one-year extension for the mission in Western Sahara.
Roundtable talks in Geneva
The UN chief also recalled that his personal envoy for Western Sahara, Horst Kohler, invited the parties for a roundtable talk in Geneva. The talks will take place in December.
Morocco was the first to respond favorably to the invitation. The report also mentioned that the separatist group responded positively to Kohler’s invitation.
Kohler also invited Mauritania and Algeria. The two countries have not responded to the UN’s invitation yet.
Guterres said in the report that Kohler met Algeria’s foreign affairs minister Abdelkader Messahel, who announced that Algeria “was prepared to step up its role in the political process, as a neighbor, as required by Resolution 2414 (2019).”
Morocco has been calling on Algeria to shoulder its responsibility in the conflict. Morocco also urged Algeria to engage in the UN-led political process to find an agreed upon and mutually acceptable solution to the conflict. However, the solution should not undermine Morocco’s firm precondition of any deal respecting its sovereignty over Western Sahara and its territorial integrity.
The UN secretary-general is confident that both Algeria and Mauritania will accept Kohler’s invitations for the Geneva round-table.
“I am confident that Algeria and Mauritania will respond favourably,” he wrote.