Refugees in Morocco and Tunisia
1286 (XIII)

General Assembly Resolutions, 5 December 1958

XIII. RESOLUTION ADOPTED ON THE REPORTS OF THE THIRD COMMITTEE

1286. Refugees in Morocco and Tunisia

The General Assembly,

Having examined the report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees1 and in particular chapter II,

Considering the efforts made by the United Nations Refugee Fund to assist refugees,

Noting the action taken in 1958 by the High Commissioner on behalf of refugees from Algeria in Tunisia,

Considering that a similar problem exists in Morocco,

Recommends the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to continue his action on behalf of the refugees in Tunisia on a substantial scale and to undertake similar action in Morocco.

782nd plenary meeting,
5 December 1958.


1 Official Records of the General Assembly, Thirteenth Session, Supplement No. 11 (A/3828/Rev.1) and Supplement No. 11A (A/3828/Rev.1/Add.1)

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UNHCR country pages

Western Sahara Family Visits

Emotions are running high in the Sahara desert as families split for nearly three decades by conflict over sovereignty of the Western Sahara Territory are being briefly reunited by a UNHCR family visit scheme.

Living in five windswept and isolated camps around Tindouf in south-western Algeria for the last 28 years, the refugees have been almost totally cut off from their relatives in the Territory. So when the UN refugee agency launched its five-day family visit scheme in March this year, there were tears of joy as well as apprehension at the prospect of reunion.

The visit scheme is proving extremely popular, with more than 800 people already having visited their relatives and another 18,000 signed up to go. In addition to the family visit scheme, the UN refugee agency has opened telephone centres in some of the camps, creating another channel through which long-lost family members can make contact.

Photos taken in June 2004.

Western Sahara Family Visits

Sighted off Spain's Canary Islands

Despite considerable dangers, migrants seeking a better future and refugees fleeing war and persecution continue to board flimsy boats and set off across the high seas. One of the main routes into Europe runs from West Africa to Spain's Canary Islands.

Before 2006, most irregular migrants taking this route used small vessels called pateras, which can carry up to 20 people. They left mostly from Morocco and the Western Sahara on the half-day journey. The pateras have to a large extent been replaced by boats which carry up to 150 people and take three weeks to reach the Canaries from ports in West Africa.

Although only a small proportion of the almost 32,000 people who arrived in the Canary Islands in 2006 applied for asylum, the number has gone up. More than 500 people applied for asylum in 2007, compared with 359 the year before. This came at a time when the overall number of arrivals by sea went down by 75 percent during 2007.

Sighted off Spain's Canary Islands

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Between February and October 2011, more than 1 million people crossed into Tunisia to escape conflict in Libya. Most were migrant workers who made their way home or were repatriated, but the arrivals included refugees and asylum-seekers who could not return home or live freely in Tunisia.

UNHCR has been trying to find solutions for these people, most of whom ended up in the Choucha Transit Camp near Tunisia's border with Libya. Resettlement remains the most viable solution for those registered as refugees at Choucha before a cut-off date of December 1, 2011.

As of late April, 14 countries had accepted 2,349 refugees for resettlement, 1,331 of whom have since left Tunisia. The rest are expected to leave Choucha later this year. Most have gone to Australia, Norway and the United States. But there are a more than 2,600 refugees and almost 140 asylum-seekers still in the camp. UNHCR continues to advocate with resettlement countries to find solutions for them.

Resettlement from Tunisia's Choucha Camp

Portugal: Sahrawi Cultural GatheringPlay video

Portugal: Sahrawi Cultural Gathering

People from Sahrawi refugee camps in Algeria and from Western Sahara Territory meet for a cultural seminar in the Azores Islands as part of a confidence building measures programme.
Hip Hop HoorayPlay video

Hip Hop Hooray

Saber, a young Somali refugee in Tunisia's Choucha camp, wants to become a hip hop artist.
Tunisia: Guterres at Choucha CampPlay video

Tunisia: Guterres at Choucha Camp

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres revisits Choucha Camp in Tunisia and tells refugees he is searching for a solution for them.