Polisario Front destroys landmines; Morocco holds out

On Feb. 27, the Polisario Front’s special mine action team destroyed 3,321 anti-personnel mines in Tifariti, Western Sahara. This was the Polisario Front’s second stockpile destruction since it signed the “Deed of Commitment for Adherence to a Total Ban on Antipersonnel Mines” in November 2005. High-level Polisario officials, including Secretary General Mohamed Abdelaziz, President of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic (as recognized by the African Union and many States), attended the ceremony. Geneva Call, the Saharawi Campaign to Ban Landmines (SCBL) and Landmine Action UK inspected the destruction site before and after the operation. International delegates and media representatives also witnessed the event, among them Major General Kurt Mosgaard, Force Commander of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).

During the ceremony, Geneva Call program director Pascal Bongard commended the action, buut noted that it must be reciprocated by Moroccan military authorities in the divided territory. “The Polisario Front has destroyed a large portion of its anti-personnel mines stockpile… Similar progress must be observed in Moroccan-controlled areas for Western Sahara to become mine free.” (Geneva Call press release, March 1)

See our last posts on Western Sahara and Morocco. See also our last special report on Western Sahara.