UN-backed talks on future of Western Sahara to resume next week

UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) at work in Western Sahara

3 March 2011 – Delegations of the parties to the Western Sahara dispute, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, and the two neighbouring States, Algeria and Mauritania, will gather in Malta on Monday for two days of United Nations-backed informal meetings as agreed during their last round of talks in January.

The meetings will take place at the invitation of the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, within the context of the UN Security Council mandate, the spokesperson of the Secretary-Council announced today.

The UN has been involved in efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.

Morocco has presented a plan for autonomy while the position of the Frente Polisario is that the territory’s final status should be decided in a referendum on self-determination that includes independence as an option.

Meanwhile, the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) reported that Frente Polisario has destroyed another 1,506 anti-personnel mines in its stockpiles in line with international efforts to end the use of the explosives, which kill and main indiscriminately.

The stockpile destruction, which took place on Monday in Tifariti, Western Sahara, was the fourth carried out by Frente Polisario in accordance with the “Deed of Commitment” signed in 2005, in which it renounced the use of anti-personnel mines and committed to stockpile destruction and cooperation in mine action through periodic monitoring.

To date, a total of 10,148 mines have been destroyed, according to a news release issued by MINURSO, which added that its Mine Action Coordination Centre (MACC) conducted the quality control of the stockpile destruction, while the UN Mine Action Service’s (UNMAS) implementing partner, Landmine Action UK, provided technical support.


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