2 February 2004
Security Council Extends Western Sahara Mission until 30 April
NEW YORK, 30 January (UN Headquarters) -- The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April.
Unanimously adopting resolution 1523 (2004), it requested that the Secretary-General provide a report on the situation before the end of that mandate.
The meeting began at 11:40 a.m. and adjourned at 11:42 a.m.
The full text of Council resolution 1523 (2004) reads, as follows:
The Security Council
Recalling all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara, and reaffirming, in particular, resolution 1495 (2003) of 31 July 2003,
1. Decides to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2004;
2. Requests that the Secretary-General provide a report on the situation before the end of the present mandate;
3. Decides to remain seized of the matter.
When the Council met, it had before it the Secretary-Generals latest report on MINURSO (document S/2004/39), in which he says the Mission should be extended for another three months, through the end of April, to give Morocco more time to respond to a peace plan for the disputed area.
In the report, Mr. Annan says his Personal Envoy, James Baker, recommended the extension to allow him to consult more with Rabat. "I concur with this view and hope that he will be receiving Morocco's final reply before the end of April 2004", Mr. Annan says.
The peace plan, submitted by Mr. Baker last year, calls for a referendum on the status of Western Sahara. It was accepted by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front), in July.
According to the report, the recent round of confidence-building measures -- telephone calls between Western Sahara and refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria resumed earlier this month -- mean the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) thinks an exchange of family visits could begin next month.
That agency submitted a detailed plan in November on how the exchange of family visits between the refugee camps in Tindouf and Western Sahara could work.
But Mr. Annan also warns that more relief aid is needed to ensure Western Saharan refugees do not succumb to acute and chronic malnutrition. "Without significant donor contributions, the Western Saharan refugee assistance programme may face a critical situation in the coming months", he says.
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