New York

25 February 2017

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on Western Sahara

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the increased tensions in the vicinity of Guerguerat in the Buffer Strip in southern Western Sahara between the Moroccan berm and the Mauritanian border. Armed elements of both Morocco and Frente Polisario remain in close proximity to each other, a position they have been in since August 2016, monitored during daylight hours by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

The Secretary-General calls on both of the parties to exercise maximum restraint and take all necessary steps to avoid escalating tensions, be that through the actions of military or civilian actors. He also underlines that regular commercial traffic should not be obstructed and that no action should be taken, which may constitute a change to the status quo of the Buffer Strip.
The Secretary-General strongly urges the parties to unconditionally withdraw all armed elements from the Buffer Strip as soon as possible, to create an environment conducive to a resumption of the dialogue in the context of the political process led by the United Nations. He further calls on the parties to adhere to their obligations under the ceasefire agreement and to respect both the letter and the spirit of it.