Morocco’s permanent representative to the United Nations, ambassador Omar Hilale, highlighted, Wednesday before the 4th Committee of the United Nations, the political, economic and social development of the southern provinces of the Kingdom through the huge investments made by Morocco in the region.

"Populations in the Moroccan Sahara are fully involved in the political life of the region, particularly through a strong participation in the electoral processes, at the regional and national levels. These elections led to the emergence of democratically elected representatives at the region's bodies, all of them from the Sahara," Hilale told the members of the Fourth Committee.

These elected officials participate in various international meetings and conferences, as representatives of the region, as was the case in the last two years at the C24 and at the round tables held in Geneva, the Moroccan diplomat said.

In accordance with their right to development, these populations contribute to the setting-up of development policies and programs in these regions, through their elected representatives and their trade union and professional representatives, he noted, adding that private entrepreneurs from the southern provinces contribute, through their income-generating activities, to prosperity and development of the Moroccan Sahara and the entire national territory.

Moreover, they are also active at the international level as they are exporting their products and establishing partnerships with international operators, Hilale said.

The Kingdom of Morocco launched, in 2015, the new development model of the Moroccan Sahara, which has paved the way for a multidimensional, inclusive and sustainable development of its southern provinces with a colossal budget of 8 billion dollars, he said, adding that the new Dakhla Atlantic Port, worth $ 96 million, will generate 183,000 jobs by 2030 and will be a trade hub with Africa and Latin America.

Rights and freedoms in the southern provinces are not different from the rest of the Kingdom's provinces, Hilale said, stressing that the populations of the Moroccan Sahara enjoy the same rights and freedoms as their fellow citizens in the rest of Morocco.

Moreover, actions of the National Human Rights Council, particularly through its regional commissions in Laayoune and Dakhla, reinforce the promotion and protection of human rights in the Moroccan Sahara, he added.

The Moroccan Sahara, like the rest of the Kingdom, has become a popular tourist destination and has hosted several important regional and international conferences and events, such as the Crans Montana Forum, the France-Morocco Business Forum and the African Agricultural Fair, in addition to international sports competitions, he said, adding that the region is served by several international airlines and is home to world famous franchises.