Norway is now doubling its support to the Sahrawi people, making NOK 11.9 million available in 2009. "The support is mainly intended to alleviate the very precarious humanitarian situation in the refugee camps,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere.
The conflict in Western Sahara, which has been ongoing since the 1960s, has been one of the “forgotten conflicts”, the Norwegian Department of Foreign Affairs states.
“Norway supports the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to find a political solution to the conflict that provides for the self-determination of the people of Western Sahara in accordance with international law and UN resolutions. We supports the Secretary-General in his appeal to the parties to engage in direct negotiations without preconditions. The international community must now join together to put pressure on the parties to achieve a lasting political solution to the conflict as soon as possible,” the Foreign Minister underlined.
“The Government will make NOK 11.9 million available in 2009 for various humanitarian measures to improve the situation of the Sahrawi people. This is more than twice last year’s allocation,” Mr Støre added.
The Norwegian funding will mainly be channelled through the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Land Mine Action and Norwegian Church Aid. The support is primarily intended to help Sahrawi families who are split between Western Sahara and refugee camps in Algeria to maintain contact, to improve the nutritional situation in the refugee camps and clear mines and other unexploded ordnance in Western Sahara.
Since 1975, three quarters of the territory of Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. A majority of the population is still living in refugee camps in Algeria. Those who remained in their homeland are subjected to serious harassment from the Moroccan occupiers. For more than 40 years the Sahrawis have been waiting for the fullfilment of their legitimate right to self-determination.
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