Renewal of MINURSO mandate represents a hope for the Sahrawi people

For the second time since its creation in 1991, the UN Security Council has renewed the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) for a period of 6 months instead of the usual 12.

Meryem Benbrahim, Oxfam’s Country Director in Algeria, said: "Oxfam receives positively the Council’s decision to renew MINURSO’s mandate. MINURSO today remains the most tangible expression of the international community’s commitment to settle the dispute over Western Sahara and uphold the right to self-determination of the people of Western Sahara. 

"First and foremost, MINURSO has to re-affirm and implement its full mandate. Every year that goes by without a solution deepens the Sahrawis’ feeling that the international community is abandoning their plight and neglecting their most basic rights. After all these years of waiting in desperate conditions, Sahrawis need to have their voices heard and an opportunity to determine their own future.

"In the latest report on the situation in Western Sahara issued by the Security Council on October 3rd 2018, the Secretary-General stated as an observation that: 'Frustration and anger at the lack of progress in the political process continue to prevail among the general population of the refugee camps near Tindouf, Algeria, compounded by persistent difficulties, such as rising malnutrition, brought about by the steady reductions in humanitarian aid…'."

Sahrawi civil society activist, Sidahmed Jouly, said: "My mother used to live in Western Sahara during her childhood. She always says how much she misses the fresh air there near to the Atlantic Ocean, and she always prays not to die in the refugee camps. But she feels like time is running out and no one is listening.

"We have been forgotten by the mainstream media and the world, all we know about our territory comes from rare clips on TV or some stories from our parents who fled their homeland.”

This mandate renewal and upcoming peace discussions represents Sidahmed’s only hope to see his territory one day. 

Benbrahim added: "Oxfam welcomes the UN Secretary General's Personal Envoy, Horst Kohler's initiative to gather the parties and neighbouring countries Algeria and Mauritania in Geneva in 5-6 December. 

"We encourage all parties to consider this meeting as a first step towards meaningful and genuine negotiations to find a just, lasting and mutually-acceptable solution to the long-lasting conflict and put an end to the Sahrawi’s suffering."  

Notes to editors: 

The dispute over the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara has been ongoing since 1975 when the conflict erupted. This has led to the displacement of thousands of Sahrawis who sought shelter in the Algerian desert, and who have remained there ever since.

You can find further information on the MINURSO mandate here: https://minurso.unmissions.org/

To read the complete report of the Security Council on the current situation in Western Sahara: http://undocs.org/S/2018/889

Contact information: 

Laurence Chiasson, head of communication: laurence.chiasson@oxfam.org

+213 656 10 85 20

Skype : lalou.chiasson

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.