PRESS STATEMENT ON WESTERN SAHARA PRISONERS
NEW YORK, 4 January (UN Headquarters) -- Following is today’s press statement by Security Council President Jagdish Koonjul (Mauritius) concerning the decision by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO) to release Moroccan prisoners of war:
Members of the Security Council discussed the situation in the Western Sahara during consultations on 4 January. They welcomed the Polisario Front’s New Year’s Day decision to release 115 Moroccan prisoners of war, many of whom have been detained for decades.
In this regard, members of the Council support the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the current President of the Council of the European Union and others, as well as the former Special Representative of the Secretary-General Eagleton and his successor Ambassador Swing. Members of the Council stressed that this issue must be solved on a strict humanitarian basis in accordance with the position of the Secretary-General, as was stated in his reports to the Security Council.
Members of the Council also noted the Government of Morocco’s commitment to address the problem of the fate of people unaccounted for in the Western Sahara conflict and welcomed the recent Moroccan decision to release a number of Sahrawi detainees.
Members of the Council recalled the relevant provisions of resolution 1359 (2001) and urged the parties to solve the problem of the fate of people unaccounted for. Members of the Council have raised this issue several times in the past. They believe that it is time for the two parties to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian law to release without further delay all those held since the start of the conflict.
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