Sahara – Family visits : an HCR team in Morocco to examine the technical modalities

The Sahrawi families would be able to exchange visits through road transport between Tindouf camps and Morocco Southern provinces. The technical aspects of this humanitarian objective have been examined on the 9th and 10th February 2011 in Geneva, during the meeting of the UN HCR with the delegations of Morocco, Polisario, Algeria and Mauritania. Morocco is ready to welcome this week a HCR team, to examine the practical modalities and technical aspects related to the future exchanges of family visits through road transport. During his stay in the Kingdom, the HCR team would also have some preliminary interviews with the Moroccan authorities about the means and ways aiming at improving the humanitarian conditions of the Sahrawi populations in Lahmada camps, in Tindouf, in Algeria.

The HCR technical team intends to evaluate with the Moroccan authorities and the MINURSO, the most appropriate way to extend the humanitarian programme of family exchange visits through road transport. These exchanges were achieved till today only through air transport. A 13th travel in 2011 between the Smara province and Tindouf camps was organized on Friday 15th April by the HCR between Tindouf camps, at he South of Algeria and the Southern provinces of the Kingdom. This exchange of family visits would be beneficial to 73 persons from 12 families, according to the Moroccan office in charge of coordination with the MINURSO. Thirty five persons from the Province of Smara, belonging to six families have left the Smara airport in an UN aircraft towards Tindouf, after the landing of 38 persons belonging to six families coming from Tindouf camps. Since 2004, some 10 872 (5 617 persons coming from Tindouf camps and 5 255 persons from the Southern provinces of the Kingdom of Morocco) have benefited from these visits exchanges led by the HCR.