The Moroccan authorities have allegedly barred the UN Peace Mission in Western Sahara from entering the harbour of Dakhla, located in the south of the occupied territory.
According to the Moroccan internet news site goud.ma, the Moroccan authorities in the city of Dakhla have stopped MINURSO officers from accessing the premises of the city's port, claiming that they do not possess the necessary licenses.
The article says that the ban comes after several, out-of-the-ordinary visits of MINURSO personnel to harbour of Dakhla, where they shot photos of vessels and ongoing harbour operations.
MINURSO has been in the territory since 1991, following the UN-brokered cease fire between Morocco and the Frente Polisario. The Mission was mandated to organise a referendum on self-determination, through which the Saharawi people could freely decide the future status of their land. But Morocco has continuously blocked the referendum from taking place, as it has in recent years thwarted efforts to enlarge MINURSO's mandate so as to include a human rights monitoring component.
In the run-up to the annual review of the MINURSO mandate, the UN Secretary General issued a report on the situation in Western Sahara which contains several references to Saharawi protests on the back of Morocco's ongoing plunder of the territory's natural resources. "In some instances, protesters drew attention to aspects of the exploitation of natural resources of the region that they considered contrary to international law. In others, they raised concerns regarding the issue of the provision of social services. In Dakhla and Laayoune, fisherfolk and current and former employees of the Boucraa phosphate mines demanded improvements in labour conditions", Ban Ki-Moon wrote.
WSRW has not yet been able to confirm the information from local sources.
Photo: UN/Martine Perret
The fish stocks of occupied Western Sahara have not only attracted the interest of the Moroccan fleet: other foreign interests are also fishing in the occupied waters through arrangements with Moroccan counterparts. Along the Western Saharan coastline, a processing industry has emerged.
Without waiting for the final ruling of the EU Court of Justice, the EU Commission has seemingly started preparation for further fisheries in the waters offshore occupied Western Sahara.
WSRW calls on UN Member States to address Morocco's plunder of Western Sahara during Morocco's UPR review in November.