23/01/2003
Press Release
SC/7640



PRESS STATEMENT ON WESTERN SAHARA BY SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT


Following is today’s statement to the press on Western Sahara by Security Council President Jean-Marc de La Sablière (France):


Council members welcomed the Secretary-General’s report of 16 January 2003 concerning Western Sahara and agreed with his observation that the responsibility for a solution rested solely with the parties. 


Council members recalled the need to release without further delay all remaining prisoners of war in compliance with international humanitarian law and urged full compliance, as established under paragraph 5 of resolution 1429.


They also recalled that that same resolution called upon Morocco and Polisario to continue to cooperate with the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross to resolve the problem of the fate of all those unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict.


Council members also expressed concern that, despite the tireless efforts of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), confidence-building measures remained stalled and called on the parties to make the necessary compromises to allow person-to-person contact between Saharans on both sides of the berm.


Council members joined the Secretary-General in his appeal to donors to provide the necessary resources to the World Food Programme and UNHCR to cover the refugee food requirements.


Council members agreed to extend the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara’s mandate to give the parties time to consider the proposal presented to them by the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, James Baker III.


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