UN workers won't be pulled from Sahrawi refugee camp

Decision stands in contrast to Spanish government move to bring volunteers home due to security threats

The United Nations said that it found no reason to evacuate its aid workers from the Tindouf Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria following Spain's decision to call back its volunteers because of growing insecurity in the region.

"No," answered Omar Bachir Manis, head of UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara, Minurso, when asked if the United Nations had planned to evacuate workers. "Since the attack [on the UN offices] in Baghdad [in August 2003, in which 22 people were killed] security is a priority for us."

Last month, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo called for "voluntary" repatriation of all aid workers following the kidnappings of three people working at the camp.

"If the United Nations is here, and there is a humanitarian crisis going on, we cannot understand why Spain is the only one who is not here," complained Geli Ariza, president of the Andalusia Association of Friends of the Sahrawis.


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