Sahrawi meet for confidence building seminar in the Azores

Press Releases, 3 July 2012

A UNHCR facilitated seminar began today involving 33 people from the Tindouf camps in Algeria and the Western Sahara Territory as well as representatives from the Moroccan Government and the Frente Polisario. The seminar is taking place on the Portuguese Azores islands.

The seminar is part of the humanitarian programme known as 'Confidence Building Measures' that aim to bring together Sahrawi families who have been separated for some 37 years, the world's most protracted refugee situation.

"This is the second seminar to take place and one of many attempts by UNHCR to build a humanitarian bridge between Tindouf and Layoun," said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

During the seminar the participants, majority women, will exchange ideas on maintaining their cultural heritage. This is the second such seminar to take place. The first took place on the Portuguese island of Madeira in September 2011.

"UNHCR is committed to the Confidence Building Measures which aim to compliment the efforts of the UN and concerned parties to find a political solution for the Western Sahara refugee situation so that one day they can finally go home," said Guterres.

The seminar is organised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), with the support of the Government of Portugal. The Confidence Building Measures involve the two parties, Morocco and the Frente Polisario, and the two neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania, with logistical support from the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) and UNHCR.

Other initiatives run by UNHCR under this programme include regular flights between Layoun and Tindouf to temporarily reunite families.

For further information please contact:

  • Sybella Wilkes, wilkes@unhcr.org, +41 79 557 9138

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Portugal: Sahrawi Cultural GatheringPlay video

Portugal: Sahrawi Cultural Gathering

As part of a confidence-building programme, the UN refugee agency helps organize a meeting in Portugal's Azores Islands on the culture of the divided Sahrawi people.