SECURITY COUNCIL EXTENDS MANDATE OF WESTERN SAHARA MISSION UNTIL 30 JUNE, UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTING RESOLUTION 1349 (2001)
NEW YORK, 27 April (UN Headquarters) -- Noting the existence of fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of the Settlement Plan in Western Sahara, the Security Council decided this afternoon to extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 June.
The Council took that decision by unanimously adopting resolution 1349 (2001) with the expectation that the parties -- Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) -- would continue to try to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute over Western Sahara.
Before taking action on the resolution, Council members observed a moment of silence in memory of six humanitarian workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) killed today in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
On behalf of the Council, its President, Sir Jeremy Greenstock (United Kingdom), expressed sympathy and condolences to the Governments and peoples of Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Switzerland, and to the bereaved families in connection with the deaths of two international humanitarian workers and four Congolese nationals serving with the ICRC. "The Council strongly condemns the wanton killing of those humanitarian workers", he said.
This afternoon's meeting began at 1:02 p.m. and adjourned at 1:06 p.m.
The text of resolution 1349 (2001) (document S/2001/413) reads as follows:
"The Security Council,
"Reaffirming all its previous resolutions on Western Sahara, in particular resolutions 1108 (1977) of 22 May 1997, 1292 (2000) of 29 February 2000, 1301 (2000) of 31 May 2000, 1309 (2000) of 25 July 2000, 1324 (2000) of 30 October 2000, and 1342 (2001) of 27 February 2001, and also its resolution 1308 (2000) of 17 July 2000,
"Recalling the relevant principles contained in the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel of 9 December 1994,
"Welcoming the report of the Secretary-General of 24 April 2001 (S/2001/398) and the observations and recommendations contained therein, and expressing full support for the role and work of the Personal Envoy,
"Reiterating full support for the continued efforts exerted by the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) to implement the Settlement Plan and agreements adopted by the parties to hold a free, fair and impartial referendum for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara,
"Noting that fundamental differences between the parties over the interpretation of the main provisions of the Settlement Plan remain to be resolved,
"1. Decides to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 30 June 2001, with the expectation that the parties, under the auspices of the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy, will continue to try to resolve the multiple problems relating to the implementation of the Settlement Plan and try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute over Western Sahara;
"2. Requests the Secretary-General to provide an assessment of the situation before the end of the present mandate;
"3. Decides to remain seized of the matter."
The Council had before it a report from the Secretary-General on the situation concerning Western Sahara (document S/2001/398) in which he recommends that the Council extend the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 June 2001, in the expectation that the parties -– Morocco and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Saguia el-Hamra and Rio de Oro (POLISARIO Front) -– would continue to try to agree upon a mutually acceptable political solution to their dispute. The report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1342 (2001) of 27 February 2001.
According to the report, the Secretary-General's Personal Envoy, James A. Baker III, was able to fully re-engage in trying to assist the parties to find an agreed resolution to their dispute over Western Sahara since the last report on the matter on 28 February 2001. He consulted separately with representatives of the two parties, with some members of the Security Council and representatives of MINURSO and the United Nations Secretariat. There have since been positive moves towards restoration of the status quo ante, while some restrictions on the Mission’s freedom of movement remain in effect.
During the reporting period, the Identification Commission completed the consolidation and quality control of the files received during the second round of appeals and corrected some minor errors that affected the provisional voter list. There had been no progress towards the repatriation of the remaining 1,481 Moroccan prisoners of war held in camps in the Tindouf area of Algeria. The Secretary-General calls on the parties to arrange for the early repatriation of all prisoners, under the auspices of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
In preparation for the repatriation of the Saharan refugees, the Secretary General states that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) continued to carry out its mandated responsibilities. The UNHCR monitored the welfare of the refugees in all four Tindouf camps and coordinated its activities with the host Government and the POLISARIO Front leadership. However, the reduction of basic assistance due to financial constraints faced by the UNHCR has had a negative impact on the beneficiaries in the camps.
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