United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has urged the Security Council to restore the UN mission’s role in the disputed territory of Western Sahara.
Moon warned in a report on Tuesday that staff cuts ordered by Rabat are weakening the MINURSO mission and that extremists could move in to exploit the situation, Mailonline reports.
“I call on the Security Council to restore and support the mandated role of MINURSO,” said the report.
I call on the Security Council to restore and support the mandated role of MINURSO.
“The risk of a rupture of the ceasefire and resumption of hostilities, with its attendant danger of escalation into full-scale war, will grow significantly in the event that MINURSO is forced to depart or finds itself unable to execute the mandate that the Security Council has set,” Ban said.
Risk of full-scale war if Western Sahara mission departs: U.N. https://t.co/1gUmELQDV2— Reuters World (@ReutersWorld) April 19, 2016
The UN chief warned that downsizing MINURSO will have “significant implications for the stability of the region as well as the credibility of the Security Council and the United Nations peacekeeping” worldwide, Middleeasteye further reports.
Council members are to vote on April 28 on whether to renew mandate of the mission, which was established in 1991 after a ceasefire ended a war that broke out when Morocco sent troops to the former Spanish territory in 1975.
Morocco had expelled some 83 civilians staffers of MINURSO a month ago and shut down a military liaison office, severely crippling operations in what was once a 500 strong mission.
The move was in response to a visit by Moon to the region during which he used the term “occupation” to refer to the status of Western Sahara, a term fiercely rejected by Rabat.
Moon said the mission should stay on for a further 12 months until April 2017.
The UN has been trying to broker a Western Sahara settlement since the 1991 ceasefire that ended a war and led to the establishment of MINURSO.