UN: Morocco’s expulsion of Western Sahara staffers an ‘unprecedented violation’

UN: Morocco’s expulsion of Western Sahara staffers an ‘unprecedented violation’
2.5 5

Published March 24th, 2016 - 16:00 GMT via SyndiGate.info

Rate Article:

 
PRINT Send Mail
comment (0)
This file photo taken on March 13, 2016 shows Moroccan protesters holding placards and shouting slogans in the capital Rabat, during a demonstration against statements made by the United Nations chief earlier in the week regarding the Western Sahara, a disputed territory between Morocco and the Polisario Front, following his visit to a camp for refugees from the territory. (AFP/Fadel Senna)
This file photo taken on March 13, 2016 shows Moroccan protesters holding placards and shouting slogans in the capital Rabat, during a demonstration against statements made by the United Nations chief earlier in the week regarding the Western Sahara, a disputed territory between Morocco and the Polisario Front, following his visit to a camp for refugees from the territory. (AFP/Fadel Senna)

Morocco's expulsion of civilian staffers from the UN peacekeeping mission to the disputed Western Sahara region might set a dangerous precedent for other countries seeking to push out UN operations, a UN official said Wednesday.

The official familiar with the case, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was seeking a response from the UN Security Council before the row between Morocco and the UN could damage other peacekeeping operations.

"The secretary general very much wants the council to act - not only to preserve [the mission's] operations but also to prevent similar actions at peacekeeping operations around the world from people ... who are looking to see how the council responds to the actions of a host government toward a peacekeeping operation," the official said.

Morocco's expulsion of UN personnel is an "unprecedented violation of the UN Charter," the official said.

The Security Council has so far not had any official reaction to Morocco's demand that the UN pull most of its international civilian personnel and close one of its military liaison offices in Western Sahara. The mission has complied with both requests.

The UN has been in a diplomatic standoff with Morocco since Ban called Morocco's control of the disputed region "occupation" during a recent visit to a camp of refugees from Western Sahara in Algeria.

Morocco has called the remark "unacceptable."

The UN official said Wednesday that Ban's use of the word occupation "certainly was not deliberate."

"This arose as an emotional reaction to what he had seen in the camps," the official said.

The United Nations has been unable to mediate a solution for the long-standing dispute over Western Sahara, which began in 1975 with Morocco's takeover of the region after Spain's withdrawal.

The Polisario Front, a liberation movement backed by neighbouring Algeria, has called for a referendum to decide the fate of the region, however, the proposal has been refused by Morocco, which favours autonomy instead.

By Emoke Bebiak 

© 2015 dpa GmbH

Add a new comment

 avatar