Western Sahara : resumption of family visits in expectation of a final settlement which takes so long to be reached

As agreed upon during the last sessions of informal negotiations in November and December 2010, in Manhasset next to New York, the exchange of family  visits between Sahrawis in the South provinces of the Kingdom as well as the Tindouf camps, have started again on Friday, under the supervision of  the HCR. It is Melissa Fleming, HCR spokesman who has made the announcement during a briefing at the Nations Palace in Geneva. She has specified that the first flight  programmed for Friday, would take 30 persons (5 families) from Laayoune to Tindouf camps, in the Algerian South-West. Another flight would take families the other way round, 33 other persons (6 families). The HCR spokesman has reminded that, since the starting of this program in 2004, a total of 12.635 Sahrawis have benefited from these family visits, while some 31.058 others were registered and continue waiting for the opportunity to visit their families.

The air transfers are guaranteed with the help of the MINURSO which helps the HCR, at the logistic level for the transport of Sahrawi families. Besides, the UN agency intends to held in February 2011, “a meeting in Geneva with all the parties to discuss other components of the program for reinforcing the thrust measures, which once implemented, will be beneficial to a great number of Sahrawi families”. The delegations invited to take part in this meeting will focus in their discussions on the modalities to speed up family visits by surface transport. This meeting comes less than two weeks before the holding on 21st and 22nd January 2011, of a new round of informal negotiations between Morocco, the Polisario Front, Algeria and Mauritania. Another session is programmed for next March. Apart from the agreement for the family visits resumption, the informal discussion did not till this date, reach any concrete progress to reach a final settlement for the Western Sahara conflict. Each of the two parties continue sticking to its position, and Algeria which is hosting the Sahrawi refugees camps and supporting politically, financially and materially the separatist movement does not make any effort to come out of this deadlocked situation.


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