Morocco continues to call attention to the dire circumstances Tindouf refugees face under the leadership of the separatist Polisario Front.
Rabat – Morocco’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Bourita underlined the urgent need for a formal census of the Polisario-run Tindouf refugee camps in western Algeria to ensure the protection of the camps’ residents.
Speaking during a meeting of the Committee for Foreign Affairs on Wednesday, Bourita renewed the calls Morocco and other countries and international actors have repeatedly made for a UNHCR census of the Tindouf camps to reduce fraud and human rights abuses. But Algeria has continued to obstruct such efforts, which would enable the UN to assess refugees’ needs, aspirations, and views of the Western Sahara conflict.
The minister said Algeria remains responsible for the dire circumstances and human rights violations in the Tindouf camps under Polisario’s leadership. The camps are on Algerian soil but under the management of an armed separatist group, in blatant disregard of Algeria’s international obligations to protect those living within its borders.
Morocco continues to call attention to the “degrading and disastrous humanitarian situation” Tindouf refugees face under Polisario leadership, a group with no status under international law.
It is therefore imperative that the UNHCR conduct an urgent census of the camps to ensure their international protection.
The Sahara question is Moroccan diplomacy’s number one priority and a solution requires the full participation of all parties to the conflict.
While Algeria continues to deny its involvement in the conflict, UN Security Council Resolution 2548 of October 2020 references Algeria five times—as many times as it mentions Morocco.
Algeria was also present during three roundtable discussions of the parties to the conflict, alongside Morocco, Polisario, and Mauritania. The discussions were an initiative of former UN Envoy Horst Kohler.
The parties to the conflict must also respect the principles and standards that the UN Security Council has included in all its reports and all its resolutions since 2007, Bourita continued. A permanent solution can only be political, realistic, practical, and based on consensus.
Morocco’s Autonomy Plan, which entails full Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara, is the only solution to the conflict, he continued.
Morocco submitted its autonomy initiative to the UN in 2007. The Autonomy Plan recommends making Western Sahara a semi-autonomous region that remains under Morocco’s sovereignty.
The plan would allow the region’s inhabitants to manage their social, economic, and political development while Morocco handles defense and diplomacy. Over the years, the UN Security Council has repeatedly acknowledged Morocco’s Autonomy Plan as a realistic, pragmatic approach to solving the territorial dispute.
Meanwhile, Polisario has continued to push for a referendum for “self-determination,” despite the last mention of a referendum in any UN Security Council resolutions dating back to 2001.
Bourita said Morocco rejects any obsolete proposals to end the conflict. He said the Secretary-General of the UN has deemed a referendum impossible and invalid for more than 20 years, as it distorts the political process and the standards of the Security Council.