24 July 2002

US, UK set to let down Saharawi refugees

Reports from New York suggest that three prominent members of the UN Security Council are pushing for James Baker's controversial Framework Agreement to form the basis of a resolution on the future of the disputed territory of Western Sahara.

The three countries, France, Britain, supposedly the neutral chair this month, and the US, are working behind the scenes to push forward a proposal that would give Morocco the green light to continue its illegal occupation of the country.

The proposed resolution, drafted by the US, but actively supported by the UK, says that Security Council members should opt for the second of the four options put to them by the Secretary General Kofi Annan. This option would affirm support for a revised version of Baker's plan, which has already been dismissed as completely unworkable by Polisario, and others who oppose the continued Moroccan occupation.

Steve Tibbett, Head of Policy with Campaigning charity War on Want said: "If the UK wants to make progress on the future of the region they should concentrate on the agreed plan for a referendum, brokered by the UN ten years ago. The Framework Agreement has a worthless reputation and really it should be binned. 'Neutral' countries like the UK must stand up to the Moroccans who for years have delayed and stalled the referendum process. The Framework Agreement does not even stand for the basic UN principle of self-determination"

The UN initiative comes after recent Moroccan-issued licences for oil exploration in the region went to US and French oil companies.

The UK engages in significant arms trading with Morocco and last week the UK government published details of £1.5 million worth of arms deals last year alone. In 2000 Britain sanctioned a multi-million deal for spare parts for guns on the front line of the disputed territory.


1. War on Want has worked with the Saharawi people for more than 15 years.

2. Western Sahara was occupied by Morocco in 1975, and the UN brokered a ceasefire between the two countries in 1991. Hundreds of thousands of Saharawis live in makeshift refugee camps in Algeria and have been awaiting a UN-sponsored referendum on self-determination since 1991.

3. For more information please contact Steve Tibbett on 07712 580643

Steve Tibbett
Head of Policy
War on Want
37-39 Great Guildford Street
London SE1 0ES
Phone: + + 207 620 1111
Fax: + + 207 261 9291

War on Want - Fighting Global Poverty


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