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Western Sahara: Algeria family visits a great success

Briefing notes

Western Sahara: Algeria family visits a great success

2 April 2004

Family visits between the refugees encamped in southern Algeria and their relatives in Western Sahara are continuing. Today, another round of flights took off to carry more than 50 participants between the camps at Tindouf and Laayoune in the Territory. Starting from next Friday (9 April), the MINURSO (UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) flights will be carrying people between Tindouf and Dakhla city in the Territory in an exchange that will last for approximately four weeks. The programme will then shift to Smara, Boujdour and then back into Laayoune for a new series of flights.

UNHCR has so far registered more than 8,500 people who want to take part in the family visit initiative, under which refugees get to visit relatives in the Territory for five days, while people living in Western Sahara visit relatives in the refugee camps. During this first series of flights we have been working to ensure that humanitarian cases - the elderly and sick - get to see their relatives. The operation has been going extremely well. People are overjoyed at finally getting a chance to see their relatives, sometimes after a separation of nearly 30 years.