Following Morocco’s decision to reduce the presence of the UN Mission, known as MINURSO, in the Sahara a majority of the MINURSO staff affected by the decision boarded on Sunday morning a UN aircraft to Las Palamas.
According to an airport source in Laayoune, cited by the Maghreb Arab Press MAP, a large number of the civilian component, particularly the political component of MINURSO’s staff have already left Morocco on Saturday Morning.
The same source said that the departure of all persons affected the decision made by Moroccan authorities as a reaction to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s recent statements, will be completed on March 20.
Amid the escalating row between the Moroccan government and Ban Ki-moon over his recent statements, Morocco decided on Tuesday to impose drastic cut in MINURSO staff and to immediately stop its financial contribution to it.
The Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations transmitted on Thursday to the UN Secretariat a list of 84 international civilian members of MINURSO who should leave Morocco within three days.
In response to Morocco’s decision, the Algeria-backed separatists warned on Thursday that “the shortest way to the resumption of war” is if the MINURSO ends its mission on the region.
The Polisario Front’s U.N. representative, Ahmed Boukhari, told reporters that “If there is no mission, there is a vacuum and an invitation to war.”
Ban Ki-moon found himself alone in his feud with Morocco after the Security Council has shown no unanimous support for him.
On Saturday, the United States reiterated that its support for the Moroccan autonomy plan for the Western Sahara, which it described as “serious, credible, and realistic” option that could meet the aspirations of the population of the territory.
“We continue to support the U.N.-led process to bring about a peaceful, sustainable, and mutually-agreed solution to conflict in Western Sahara,” U.S. mission spokesman Kurtis Cooper said on his Twitter feed.