Ban regrets W’Sahara’s crisis, pledges resolution

ban-ki-moonUnited Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon, on Saturday visited a camp in Algeria for refugees from the Western Sahara territory disputed between Morocco and the Polisario Front group.

Algeria is the main supporter of the Polisario Front.

Ban arrived from the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, where he also warned that the future of Libya, and the stability of the whole Sahel region, is at stake as it faces the “terrifying threat” of the Islamic State group.

The UN chief’s visit to both countries is part of a tour of West and North Africa.

Ban, who met Polisario Front leaders including its Secretary General, Mohamed Abdelaziz, said he would “spare no effort” in trying to find a solution to the Western Sahara issue.

The UN chief said warring factions had failed to make “any progress towards a solution” to a conflict that has lasted 40 years.

He began his visit at the Smara refugee camp near Tindouf 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles) west of Algiers near the border with Morocco and was greeted by a crowd of several thousand.

Ban said that refugee camps built in Algeria more than four decades ago and which currently shelter near 200,000 people “are among the oldest in the world”.

He voiced sadness that people have been trapped there for so long, and added that the United Nations will strive to improve conditions for the refugees.

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