New York

11 November 2003

Secretary-General's statement on the release and repatriation of 300 prisoners of war to Morocco

The Secretary-General welcomes the release by the Frente POLISARIO, with the assistance of a Member State, of an additional 300 prisoners of war, who were repatriated on 8 November to the Kingdom of Morocco by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Secretary-General expresses the hope that the Frente POLISARIO will expeditiously release all remaining prisoners, in accordance with the relevant Security Council resolutions and in compliance with international humanitarian law. He also urges the parties to continue to cooperate with the ICRC to resolve the fate of all those unaccounted for since the beginning of the conflict.

At the same time, the Secretary-General urges the parties to cooperate with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), who is planning to send a follow-up mission to the region in early December to discuss the implementation of confidence-building measures.