Morocco urges Red Cross to intensify help to Moroccan POWs
Morocco-Algeria, Politics, 4/3/2003
Morocco urged in Geneva on Tuesday officials of the Red Cross international committee (CICR) to intensify action in favor of 1160 POWs detained by Polisario (Algeria-backed secessionist group) in southern Algeria.
Governor in charge of coordination with Minurso, Hamid Chabar, who spoke on behalf of Morocco in a meeting with CICR's general delegate to the Middle-East and North Africa, Yves Arnoldy, at the headquarters of the Geneva humanitarian organization, recalled that CICR is the only organization that pays regular visits and provides medical assistance to the Moroccan detainees. It is also the sole contact between the POWs and their families.
The Moroccan official underlined the dreadful health condition of the detainees, calling CIRC to raise the number of visits to the Moroccan POWs as he estimated that the current rate of two visits a year is not enough in view of their deteriorating physical and psychological health conditions.
South-eastern detention camps risk to be a "real place for people to die," he added.
Chabar described Polisario's use of Moroccan detainees as political instrument as "indignant" and "unacceptable" and accused the secessionist group of violating international humanitarian law.
"This treatment of Moroccan POWs should scandalize the international community as much as it does to Morocco," he stressed.
The governor voiced hope to see CIRC and Switzerland pressuring Polisario and Algeria to immediately and unconditionally liberate the 1160 POWs.
On their part, the two CIRC officials said their organization is determined to follow action until the final liberation of the detainees and termed as "inadmissible" their continuing detention.
CIRC said it is necessary to dissociate humanitarian and political aspects and stressed that it should be dealt with from a "solely humanitarian" perspective.
The international organization also committed to examine the possibility to intensify its visits to the Moroccan POWs, improve the medical aid and intensify media attention over their condition so that the fate of "the longest serving captives" is not forgotten.
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Algerian president called to stop sequestered population ordeal in Tindouf
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