The Malian conflict is posing the risk of terrorist infiltrations in Western Sahara (Southern Morocco) and radicalization in the Tindouf refugee camps in south western Algeria. These risks are of great concern to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon who called on Monday for an urgent solution to the Western Sahara issue. “The rise of instability and insecurity in the Sahel and beyond requires an urgent solution to this long-lasting conflict,” he warned in the latest report on the Sahara he handed to the Security Council on April 5. Like his Personal Envoy for Western Sahara, Christopher Ross, who has just toured the region, the UN chief said that “all governments consulted have voiced serious concerns about the risk of a spread of the conflict throughout Mali’s neighboring countries and fear that the conflict contributes to radicalizing the Tindouf refugee camps”, which are controlled by the Polisario Front under Algerian authorities’ supervision. Ban Ki-Moon also expressed concern for the safety of the personnel of the UN Mission (MINURSO) entrusted with monitoring a cease-fire in the Western Sahara since 1991. He mentioned in this regard “possible infiltrations of armed elements” and “shortcomings in matters of coordination at the regional security levels.
” The UN chief also recalled that three European humanitarian workers had been kidnapped in the Tindouf camps in October 2011 and that 17 aid workers operating in the camps were ordered to leave in 2012. Ban Ki-Moon insisted that “it is high time the parties moved forward towards a solution that is supported and encouraged by the international community.” He called on Morocco and Algeria “to redouble efforts to take advantage of better bilateral relations and open borders in the interest of the region and the international community at large.” According to Ban’s report to the Security Council, a leader in the region described the Tindouf camps as a “time bomb”. On the issue of the census of the Tindouf camps population, Ban Ki-Moon said the UN High Commissioner for Refugees is continuing discussions with the host country, Algeria, in accordance with the recommendations contained in his previous reports and the latest Security Council resolution 2044.