14 February 2013

Western Sahara - Latest Confidence-Building Meeting Concludes in Portugal

press release

UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, welcomes the successful conclusion on Saturday February 8 of a seminar involving 33 participants from the Sahrawi refugee camps in Tindouf, Algeria and Western Sahara territory, with coordinators from the Moroccan Government and Polisario Front.

The seminar, held in Portugal, was the latest in a series of confidence-building steps aimed at linking Sahrawi refugees from Tindouf camps in Algeria with their family members in the Territory, pending a political solution to one of the world's longest-running refugee situation. Over the course of the week-long event, participants spent time together with facilitators from Mauritania and discussed ideas aimed at maintaining cultural heritage.

"This seminar series is an important component of UNHCR's effort to help build confidence among the different parties," said UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres. "I very much hope that this will contribute to the on-going efforts by the UN and the concerned parties to find a political solution to the Western Sahara situation, so that Sahrawi refugees will one day be able to go home."

The seminar was organized by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with the support of the Government of Portugal. It is part of a wider Confidence-Building Measures programme that involves Morocco and the Polisario Front, and the neighbouring countries of Algeria and Mauritania.

Other confidence building initiatives in the programme include family visit flights between the Tindouf refugee camps and the Territory, which is part of continued attempts by UNHCR to build a humanitarian bridge between the refugees in the Tindouf camps and their relatives in the Territory, who have been separated for the past 37 years.

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