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To W. Sahara, Only 25 of 83 UN Back But Mezouar Told ICP MINURSO Fully Functional

By Matthew Russell Lee, Follow up to Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- The UN of Ban Ki-moon, which gave in to Morocco's demand to pull out 83 members of its MINURSO mission in Western Sahara and has yet to get most of the returned, is now proposing to given in further, sources exclusively told Inner City Press on September 8.

On September 22, when Inner City Press asked Morocco's foreign minister Salaheddine Mezouar about MINURSO it was told it is already “fully functional."

But when Inner City Press asked Ban Ki-moon's deputy spokesman Farhan Haq how many of the 83 expelled staff are back, the answer was only 25. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press:  last week, I'd asked Stéphane [Dujarric] just to provide the number, of the 83 MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) staff who had been ejected or evicted or ousted from Western Sahara, how many have returned.  Do you have that number?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, in terms of that, I don't have numbers to add to the initial group of the 25 international civilian personnel, who returned by 26 July.  However, the UN Secretariat and the Mission continue to expedite the recruitment process of existing vacancies.  The mine action component of the mission has also finalized its relocation to Tindouf, in order to resume its operational activities.  In terms of routine, the Mission continues to operate under existing arrangements and procedures.  Full functionality has not been fully restored.

ICP Question:  Great.  Thanks.  I guess I just wanted to understand, is there… so you’re… the… the… the people that were actually working there at the time that were told to leave, are they going back, or are you just recruiting new people for positions that were already vacated at the time that they were ousted?  I just want to understand.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, some of the people… the lists had a number of discrepancies.  Some of the people who they had asked to leave had been gone for some time, had gone on to other jobs or been… had gone back to other areas.  At this stage, what we're trying to do is do the recruitment to make sure that all of the tasks that are needed to be performed are fulfilled by people.

Back on September 22 Ban's lead spokesman Dujarric would not comment on this. From the UN transcript:

Inner City Press: On Western Sahara, just now, earlier this morning, the Foreign Minister of Morocco said flatly that full functionality has been restored.  And so, I wanted to know, from the Secretariat side, have all 83 been returned?  What is the number?  Just factually.

Spokesman:  I have no… I mean, I heard what the Foreign Minister said.  I'm not going to comment on what he said.  I will get you an update of what the staffing level is on MINURSO [United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara] as soon as I can get one.

Seven hours later, nothing.


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