Western Sahara: first convoy to some UN sites since 2020

Two sites of the UN mission in Western Sahara (Minurso) east of the berm that separates the warring parties were able to be supplied thanks to a land convoy, a first since 2020, the UN announced on Monday 10 april

Western Sahara: first convoy to some UN sites since 2020

Two sites of the UN mission in Western Sahara (Minurso) east of the berm that separates the warring parties were able to be supplied thanks to a land convoy, a first since 2020, the UN announced on Monday 10 april.

“Between April 5 and 7, a convoy completed supplying two of the [Minurso] sites east of the berm, in Tifariti and Mehaires, with the support of the Polisario Front and Morocco,” declared Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, who announced an agreement concerning this convoy at the end of March.

“This supply will allow the sites to remain operational,” he added, noting their “critical need” in particular for fuel. "It is vital to build on this momentum and ensure that the mission can continue its efforts on the ground and its presence throughout the territory, with the aim of creating space for progress in the political process" led by the UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura, he said.

Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony, is considered a "non-self-governing territory" by the UN in the absence of a final settlement. It has opposed Morocco to the Polisario Front, supported by Algiers, for decades.

No land convoy since November 13, 2020

Rabat, which controls nearly 80% of this vast territory, advocates an autonomy plan under its sovereignty. The Polisario Front, for its part, is calling for the self-determination referendum under the aegis of the UN which had been planned when a ceasefire was signed in 1991, but never materialized.

The territory has been cut off from north to south since the 1980s by a "defense wall", as the Moroccan authorities who erected it call it. The UN Secretary General's latest report in October highlighted the "increasingly serious consequences" of supply problems on the ability of Minurso teams east of the wall to maintain their presence in this "austere" terrain. ".

While no land convoy had been authorized since November 13, 2020, supplies had been made by plane and helicopter, but not for heavy equipment, in particular vehicles.

Staffan de Mistura had invited representatives of the parties (Morocco, Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania) and of the "group of friends of Western Sahara" (France, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) to New York at the end of March. for a series of informal bilateral meetings. He is due to present his final report to the Security Council in a closed meeting on April 19.