Morocco has reportedly decided to allow 25 civilian staff of the United Nations mission in the Western Sahara, known as MINURSO, to return to their work station, according to Reuters.
“It’s true that Morocco has offered to let some 25 staff back in though it’s still all being negotiated,” a source was quoted by Reuters as saying.
The alleged decision signals a positive trend in the strained relations between Morocco and the United Nations since March.
During his trip to the region on March 5-7, the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, described Morocco’s presence in the Western Sahara as “occupation.”
The unprecedented statement caused the ire of Rabat, which denounced it and described a “deviation” from the UNSG’s neutrality.
Few days after the statement, Rabat requested the departure of 84 of MINURSO’s civilian component.
In April the Security Council adopted a new resolution to renew MINURSO’s mandate for one more year until April 30, 2017. Resolution 2285 called for the return of MINURSO to full functionality and requested the Secretary General to brief the Council within 90 days on whether the UN mission has returned to its full functionality.
Since the adoption of the resolution, no progress was reported in the negotiations between Morocco and the United Nations Secretariat.
On Thursday United Nations Under-Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Hervé Ladsous briefed the members of the Council in a closed-door session on progress made in the negotiations with Morocco.
Few hours before the meeting, the French Ambassador to the United Nations, Francois Delattre, who holds the Presidency of the of Council for the month June, told reporters that there was a positive momentum in talks with Morocco.
“Regarding Western Sahara we hope we have come to a positive momentum. It remains to be confirmed, it’s up to the SG to say, but that’s what you asked me so I am telling you what I think. I think we are about to confirm a positive momentum,” the French ambassador was quoted by Inner City Press as saying.