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UN chief voices 'grave concern' at Western Sahara ceasefire violations

Western Sahara is a disputed former Spanish colony [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 November, 2020

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UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed "grave concern" over a broken ceasefire in the disputed Western Sahara.

UN chief Antonio Guterres expressed "grave concern" Friday over a ceasefire that appeared to be unraveling in disputed Western Sahara.

The United Nations has for days been trying to avoid an escalation in the former Spanish territory, where the pro-independence Polisario Front has declared its decades old ceasefire with Morocco to be over, said a spokesman for Guterres.

"In recent days, the United Nations, including the Secretary-General, has been involved in multiple initiatives to avoid an escalation of the situation in the Buffer Strip in the Guerguerat area and to warn against violations of the ceasefire and the serious consequences of any changes to the status quo," said spokesman Stephane Dujarric. 

"The Secretary-General regrets that these efforts have proved unsuccessful and expresses grave concern regarding the possible consequences of the latest developments," he added.

Guterres "calls on the parties to provide full freedom of movement for the [UN] Mission in accordance with its mandate," he said.

Diplomats said no immediate formal meeting of the UN Security Council was expected to discuss the end of the ceasefire, which has been in place since 1991.

Discussions were however underway for an informal meeting, but diplomats said it would not be possible to convene until early next week.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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