UN must play greater role in resolution of Western Sahara conflict

In response to the UN Security Council’s six month renewal of the mandate of the UN mission that has been monitoring a ceasefire in Western Sahara since 1991 and its outline of steps for a return to negotiations, Oxfam says MINURSO must re-affirm and implement its full mandate.

Meryem Benbrahim, Oxfam’s Country Director in Algeria, said: “Oxfam welcomes the UN Security Council’s decision made to renew the mandate of the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO). MINURSO has a fundamental role to play in the Western Sahara conflict, which has been left unresolved for too long.

“The humanitarian situation in the Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria is desperate. The refugees have been waiting for a resolution to the conflict for 42 years while living in very difficult conditions. With every passing year, refugees are gradually losing hope and getting frustrated with the international community which they feel is ignoring them, and neglecting their rights.

“It is essential that the MINURSO keeps maintaining peace and security; and also that it re-affirms and implements its full mandate. After all these years, Sahrawis need to have a voice in determining their own future.”

Sidahmed Jouly, Sahrawi civil society activist, said: “We just want to be heard. We are living in silence. Let Sahrawis have a voice to express their feelings and aspirations, hopes, needs and perspectives. We need to have our voice heard to be able to see into the future. It has been 42 years. I am not sure we can wait another 42.”

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