Ban Ki-moon demands MINURSO activities be fully restored

New York, April 19, 2016 (SPS) - United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday urged the Security Council" to restore and support the mandated role" of the UN Mission for Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO), following the staff cuts ordered by Morocco.

In a report to the Security Council, Ban Ki-moon said that the expulsion of MINURSO international civilian components, decided by Rabat, "can be expected to be exploited by terrorist and radical elements," and will have "significant implications for the stability of the region."

In his report, Ban Ki-moon recalled that MINURSO was established by the Security Council to monitor the ceasefire and to organize a referendum of self-determination, but downsizing the UN peacekeeping mission would prevent it from performing its tasks.

The inability of the UN mission to execute its mandated tasks "would entail, in the short and the middle-term, significant implications for the stability of the region as well as for the credibility of the Security Council and United Nations operations" worldwide, warned the UN chief.

He also expressed deep concerns over the security situation in the occupied Sahrawi territories.

Security in these territories "is likely to continue to deteriorate and will further compound the existing limitations placed on the Mission's ceasefire monitoring activities," he added.

Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to restore the mandated role of MINURSO in order to "avoid setting a precedent for United Nations peacekeeping operations around the world.

The UN chief also recommended to extend MINURSO's mandate for a further 12 months until 30 April 2017, adding that the "risk of a rupture of the ceasefire and a resumption of hostilities (...) will grow significantly in the event that MINURSO is forced to depart or find itself unable to execute the mandate that the Security Council has set."

Listed as non-autonomous territories since 1966, and thus eligible for the resolution 1514 of the UN General Assembly relating to the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, Western Sahara is Africa's last colony, occupied since 1975 by Morocco, which is backed by France. (SPS)