- The present report is submitted pursuant to Security Council resolution 1920 (2010) of 30 April 2010, by which the Council extended the mandate of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) until 30 April 2011 and requested a report on the situation in Western Sahara before the end of the mandate period. The present report covers developments since the issuance of my report dated 6 April 2010 (S/2010/175) and describes the situation on the ground, as well as the status and progress of the negotiations.
II. Recent developments in Western Sahara
There were several significant socio-political and security developments within the Territory during the reporting period. The situation, reinforced by the recent series of popular uprisings in the wider Middle East and North Africa region, which called for increased political and economic rights, has given rise in Western Sahara to new challenges to stability and security that have the potential to alter the conflict’s status quo.
At the beginning of October, a group of Saharan protesters set up an encampment at Gdim Izik, some 15 kilometres south-east of Laayoune, with the intention of making socio-economic demands on the Moroccan authorities. The camp gradually expanded to comprise 6,610 tents, according to an estimate, based on satellite imagery, of the United Nations Institute for Training and Research’s Operational Satellite Applications Programme. The number of protesters, which varied significantly over time, is believed to have reached over 15,000.
MINURSO was not able to monitor the situation in the camp because the Moroccan authorities impeded its access. Attempted military patrols and visits by United Nations security and police personnel were prevented or stopped on several occasions. Moroccan authorities in Laayoune and at the Permanent Mission of Morocco to the United Nations protested against MINURSO attempts to approach the camp, advising that the Mission should not interact directly with the population on what was described as a purely internal and social matter. In response to continuing efforts by MINURSO, the Moroccan authorities eventually allowed one international security officer into the camp, on 4 November.