UN chief visits refugee camps to push for Western Sahara conflict talks

March 5, 2016 13:39


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TINDOUF, Algeria - UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon visited Sahrawi refugee camps in southern Algeria on Saturday as part of efforts to restart negotiations to end a dispute between the Polisario independence movement and Morocco over the Western Sahara territory.

The Polisario Front, which says the territory belongs to ethnic Sahrawis, waged a guerrilla war after Morocco took over the area from colonial Spain in 1975 until a UN-brokered ceasefire in 1991. The two sides have been deadlocked since.

Many of the Sahrawi refugees, who fled the fighting in Western Sahara, have been living in mud brick houses in the harsh Tindouf area for some 40 years.

Ban has said he wants to relaunch negotiations over the desert region and allow the return of Sahrawi people from refugee camps in Algeria across the border. Algeria backed Polisario in the conflict against regional rival Morocco.

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