Sahara: Guterres Announces Increase of MINURSO’s Budget

The UN Secretary-General has announced in a recent report that the budget of the UN mission in the Sahara, MINURSO, will be increased by 7.6 percent to improve ground and air surveillance operations conducted by the mission.

The UN Secretary-General António Guterres who also called on MINURSO observers to be more vigilant, has closed the debate on reducing the mission’s mandate in the Moroccan Sahara, stressing the need for it to remain operational at all times.

The increase of observation flights to 1,600 hours from nine areas monitored by the UN mission coincides with the specter of an armed rebellion within the Polisario, comments Moroccan news outlet le360, which reported the budget increase.
Inspection of headquarters and military units requires the use of three helicopters, each of which performs an average of 44.33- hour flights per month.

Guterres said that the MINURSO budget, for the period from June 2019 to June 2020, will increase significantly. In his new report, he asserts that the UN mission and its military observers must investigate all cease-fire violations reported by either party to the conflict. The UN Secretary-General emphasized the need to monitor, by air and land, the whole region by focusing on priority areas. He noted that mobile patrols of UN military controllers needed for the task will have to make 832 contact visits in the districts of the military forces of both parties. Each visiting group will be made up of four military members who will conduct four weekly checks during 52 weeks.

Local daily Assabah reported on Friday (March 22), that the UN Secretary-General said the MINURSO budget should reach, in June 2020, a global amount of $56,369,400, not including aid and voluntary contributions amounting to $519,000. The budget will cover the salaries of 818 military observers, 27 contingents, 12 police officers, 82 international civil servants, 163 national civil servants as well as 18 volunteers and 10 civil servants seconded to the mission by the governments.

The Mission’s planned budget shows a significant increase in contributions of 7.6 per cent compared to last year. The increase also shows that the MINURSO continues to accomplish its mission, implementing the UN decisions and ensuring respect for the ceasefire in the Moroccan Sahara.

The current mandate of the MINURSO will end on April 30, but António Guterres’s strong call for the mobilization of military observers means that the Security Council will surely extend the mandate, Assabah said, adding that the MINURSO will therefore continue to fulfil its task until a durable and consensual solution to the Moroccan Sahara issue is found.

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