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The Polisario Front announced the liberation of 100 Moroccan prisoners of war on the occasion of Aid Al Adha and at the request of the President of Spain, José Maria Aznar. The former prisoners will be repatriated in collaboration with the Spanish Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross. (SPS)
humanitarian act was welcomed by William Lacy Swing, the Special
representative for Western Sahara of the UN Secretary General, who
expressed his hope of seeing all the prisoners of war released in the
near future "in accordance with international humanitarian law".
The Spanish, French and American governments expressedd their satisfaction, adding comments.
Spain thought that this gesture could contribute to the establishment of a climate of trust, dialogue and understanding between the parties, and that this decision would be followed by other measures of the same nature, which will lead to the liberation of all the prisoners of war. (Europa Press 11.02.03)
France "considers that, in accordance with international humanitarian law, the Polisario Front should continue and proceed to the release of all Moroccan prisoners of war. It is concerned besides to act towards resolving all the humanitarian aspects of the Western Sahara conflict, which should be distinguished from the search for a political solution." (Décl. porte-parole Quai d'Orsay,12.02.03)
The United States, which thanked Spain for its mediating role: "the Polisario has an obligation under international humanitarian law to release, unconditionally, all remaining Moroccan prisoners captured during the Western Sahara conflict. We call on the Polisario to release the remaining 1160 Moroccan prisoners without delay (...) The United States calls on the parties to the Western Sahara dispute to release or account for all those missing or held prisoner since the start of the conflict (...). (U.S. Department of State, 14.02.03)(For remember: Humanitarian issue used as a means of pressure, Martine de Froberville)
The Saharawi political prisoners imprisoned in the black prison of El Ayoun are believed to have decided to observe a 24 hour hunger strike on 17 and 18 February as a support to the campaign of the Truth and Justice Forum for the liberationof all political prisoners.
The 20 families of political prisoners, meeting in El Ayoun, drew up a statement to support the action of their relatives.
The dates of the trials of 7 Saharawi prisoners of opinion held in the black prison of El Ayoun have been fixed: on 26 February 2003 : Moussaoui Ahmed; on 12 March : Bazeid Salek, Moussamih Baba, Bourhil Mohamed Lamine, Bougrain Haddi; on 19 March : Sbaai Aahmed; and on 26 March: Essaya Ezzeine, whose trial which should have taken place on 5 February was postponed for lack of a barrister.(see prov. list of prisoners and addresses)
«Mohammed VI appointed Ahmed Hajji as director of the Agency for the economic and social promotion and development of the southern provinces of the Kingdom (Western Sahara)." (MAP)
company TGS-Nopec was given the job of carrying out seismic surveys
off the coast of Western Sahara for the oil companies Kerr McGee and
TotalFinaElf, as these two firms had obtained exploration permits
from Morocco (week
2001). The involvement of this firm in an operation whose
legality is contested, gave rise to widespread disapproval in Norway.
At the initiative of the Norwegian Support Committee for the Saharawi
people, attention was drawn to the financial involvement of Norwegian
public bodies in the investment capital of TGS-Nopec. Following this
campaign, several municipalities and businesses withdrew their funds
The Norwegian newspaper, Bergens Tidende followed suit this week and
even Sweden's Banco Funds this week divested all its equity in the
In the context of a conference on social responsibility and ethical investment, the Norwegian Vice-President of Foreign Affairs Helgesen criticised TGS-Nopec for its activities in Western Sahara. He spelt out the position of the Norwegian government, which goes further than the UN legal adviser, Hans Corell, (S/2002/161) "In sovereignty questions of this kind, the official Norwegian position is that we cannot distinguish between exploration for and exploitation of petroleum resources and neither is such a distinction made by the UN Law of the Sea treaty." Corell had insisted on the difference between exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons, taking the position that only the latter could violate the rights of a people awaiting self-determination under the auspices of the United Nations, but he did not recognise in Morocco any status as administrative power. TGS-Nopec ended 15,000km of 2D seismic surveys in deep water for Kerr McGee and TotalFinaElf, announcing that the results will be available in four months' time.(Upstream)
On 8 and 9 February a group of Saharawis and members of associations of solidarity took part in cleaning up the coast near Laxe, in Galicia. (see photos) A previous action of the same type took place earlier.
International mission of inquiry in Western Sahara from 28 October to 5 November 2002, the Foundation France Libertés and AFASPA conducted a joint inquiry in Western Sahara, its aim being to evaluate the state of civil, political, socio-economic and cultural rights of Saharawis on the one hand, and on the other, the state of the economic exploitation of this non- self-governing territory. The mission went to the towns of El Ayoun, Smara, Boujdour and Dakhla. The report of this mission has just been made public. (press release - full report)
The UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today warned that the fate of more than 1.2 million refugees in Africa was uncertain due to a lack of funding which has forced WFP to curtail much-needed food aid. WFP urgently needs 112,000 metric tons of food worth an estimated US$ 84 million over the next six months to avert severe hunger among refugees. In Algeria, food for more than 155,000 refugees is expected to run out in April unless new donations are received for the Western Sahara refugees who have been in desert camps in south-western Algeria for the last 27 years.
Nuevo programa de radio dedicado al pueblo saharaui: LA JAIMA en la radio libre TAS-TAS <http://www.tas-tas.org/> en Bilbao FM 97.00, los lunes de 9 a 9:30 de la mañana y los jueves de 22 a 22:30. Está realizado por miembros de la Asociación Amigos de la RASD de Bizkaia. Contacto via mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (poniendo en asunto PARA LA JAIMA) o directamente a: email@example.com
- a major ICRC initiative. Action to resolve the problem of people
unaccounted for as a result of armed conflict or internal violence
and to assist their families .
International Conference of governmental and non-governmental experts 19 - 21 February 2003, Geneva
19-21.02.03 Paris, 22ème Conférence Afrique-France, le sommet des chefs d'Etat et de gouvernement de France et des pays d'Afrique avec la participation de Mohammed VI.
20-25.02.03, Kuala-Lumpur, Malaysie: 13e sommet des Pays non alignés.
26.02.03 Barcelona , a las 19h30, en la Casa del Món, c/ Tapies nº 1 y 3 : EL FUTURO DEL SAHARA OCCIDENTAL, A cargo de Alejandro García, autor del libro "Historia del Sahara, el mejor y el peor de los mundos" y profesor de Historia de la Universidad de Murcia, Antoni Segura, Catedrático de Historia Contemporánea de la Universidad de Barcelona.
[External links to newspapers may not be valid after some days because the servers are restarted]
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Norwegian language [English titles]