Oxfam Statement on the Two-Year Vacancy in UN Personal Envoy Post for Western Sahara

Publicado: 21st Mayo 2021

Today marks two years since the former UN personal Envoy for Western Sahara Horst Koehler resigned, leading to a stagnation in global peace efforts to end the 45-year conflict.

Oxfam is deeply concerned that during the long-term vacancy in the post, all political negotiations – which President Kohler had relaunched and revitalized after six years of stagnation – have completely stalled, and the 29-year ceasefire between the Polisario Front and Morocco has collapsed. The significant gap in diplomatic leadership left by the failure to appoint a new Envoy has led, in part, to this volatile situation that threatens regional stability and has renewed fears for the safety and future of Sahrawi refugees.

"A two-year delay in the appointment for this critical position is unprecedented and demonstrates a concerning indifference and lack of engagement by the international community on a longstanding UN Security Council agenda item. There is a growing sense of abandonment and frustration among the 173,600 Sahrawi refugees who have spent over 45 years displaced to the incredibly inhospitable Algerian Sahara, and are surviving almost entirely on humanitarian aid. Their feeling of hopelessness grows by the day", says Haissam Minkara, Oxfam Country Director in Algeria.

Oxfam calls upon the UN Secretary-General to immediately appoint a new Personal Envoy, and to do so with full transparency. Members of the UN Security Council and international stakeholders must also exert pressure on both the Moroccan Government and the Polisario Front to remove all preconditions for the candidate and facilitate the process in good faith, rather than continue to obstruct the appointment.

Oxfam also calls upon the UN Security Council to urgently revitalize efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Western Sahara conflict. After months of silence in the face of renewed hostilities, the Council should publicly express support for a restoration of the ceasefire and a return by all parties to the negotiations table.

The UN Secretary-General and the wider international community cannot afford to delay any further. The international community must live up to the expectations of the Sahrawi people to reach a just, lasting, and mutually acceptable political solution that provides for self-determination, in accordance with international law.

Notas para editores

  • Since the outbreak of the Western Sahara conflict in 1975, Algeria has hosted a proportion of the Sahrawi population in refugee camps near the city of Tindouf, with the majority dependent on humanitarian aid to sustain basic needs such as access to food, water, and shelter.
  • Oxfam has been active in the camps since 1975, and over the years our work has evolved from emergency aid to the multifaceted provision of humanitarian support, resilience programming, and capacity-building activities.
  • For more on Oxfam in the Sahrawi refugee camps: https://www.oxfam.org/en/what-we-do/countries/algeria

Información de contacto

For more information contact:

Anna Samulski | anna.samulski@oxfam.org | +1 718 644 8511 

Palabras clave