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GENEVA – The South African Ambassador in Geneva, Mxolisi Nkosi, criticised the silence of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) on the humanitarian situation in occupied Western Sahara, and called for special attention to be paid to the right of the Saharawi people to self-determination.

South Africa’s permanent representative to the UN in Geneva spoke on behalf of the Western Sahara People’s Support Group in Geneva to the plenary of the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council.

“Almost two years have passed since the resumption of armed conflict in Western Sahara and the office of the High Commissioner continues to remain silent on human rights violations,” the South African ambassador said in his statement.

“We reiterate the call on the Human Rights Council to pay special attention to the human rights of the Saharawi people, including the right to self-determination,” he said.

Congratulating Volker Türk on his appointment as the new High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Nkosi invited him to take stock of the situation in occupied Western Sahara and to give priority to this conflict during his mandate.
The South African Ambassador expressed his concern about the illegal use of drones by the Moroccan occupying forces against Saharawi civilians and the repression of Saharawi civilians.

He also expressed deep concern about the Kingdom of Morocco’s obstruction of the UN SG’s personal envoy in his mission, which led to the cancellation of his planned visit to the occupied regions of Western Sahara last July.

“We once again call on the Moroccan authorities to respect international resolutions concerning the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara and the will of the Saharawi people to exercise their right to self-determination and independence”, he said.

He also recalled the Security Council’s call on the Kingdom of Morocco to strengthen and improve cooperation with the Office of the High Commissioner and to facilitate access and visits to the occupied towns.