10 October 2012

Western Sahara: Head of UN Peacekeeping Visits Mission in Western Sahara

The United Nations peacekeeping chief arrived today in Laayoune to visit the world body's mission in Western Sahara, following which he will hold talks with both parties involved in the dispute over the territory.

The visit by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hervé Ladsous is the first by the head of UN peacekeeping to the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) in 14 years.

"I am thrilled to come here to MINURSO and to discuss with colleagues the challenges the Mission faces. I look forward to meeting our military observers in the team sites who under difficult conditions are doing a noble job," said Mr. Ladsous.

Established in 1991, the Mission is tasked with monitoring the ceasefire in Western Sahara and organizing a referendum on self-determination for the people of the territory.

The UN has been involved in efforts to find a settlement in Western Sahara since 1976, when fighting broke out between Morocco and the Frente Polisario after the Spanish colonial administration of the territory ended.

While in Laayoune, Mr. Ladsous will be reviewing operations and meeting with staff from the Mission, which is headed by the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Wolfgang Weisbrod-Weber.

He plans to travel to two team sites, as well as to Tindouf and Rabat, where he will meet with officials from the Frente Polisario, as part of his three-day visit.

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