Sec. of State Clinton Reaffirms US Commitment to Help Refugees 'Return to Their Homes in Safety & Dignity,' Condemns 'Unacceptable Status Quo'

Jun 18, 2010, 17:45 ET from Moroccan American Center for Policy

WASHINGTON, June 18 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, in commemoration of World Refugee Day on June 20th, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reaffirmed US commitment to meeting the "transnational challenge" of the plight of refugees around the world, which "is an issue that transcends not just geography and ethnicity, but politics and partisanship."

"Now, for the United States this has been an enduring commitment. We help because it is the right thing to do," Sec. Clinton told US and international officials as well as civil society refugee advocates during a press conference at the US State Department. "We know from our collective experience that most people want the same basic things in life: safe communities, food, water, lives free of political and religious and other persecution. And when these basic needs go unmet and families are forced to flee their homes in desperation, we should all be there with a helping hand."

Today, more than 8 million refugees are warehoused—some for three decades or more—in camps and settlements around the world in places such as Tibet, Sudan, and Algeria.  In the bleak Tindouf camps of Algeria, thousands of Sahrawi refugees have been confined in inhumane conditions in the Sahara desert for more than 30 years, deprived of the most basic and internationally recognized human rights.

In its latest annual World Refugee Survey, the US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants found that Algeria "allowed the rebel group, Polisario, to confine nearly a hundred thousand refugees from the disputed Western Sahara to four camps in desolate areas outside Tindouf military zone near the Moroccan border 'for political and military, rather than humanitarian, reasons.'"  News reports from the region have indicated that as many as 600 Sahrawi refugees have made a perilous escape from the Tindouf camps over the last few months, though thousands remain without documentation or freedom of movement to rejoin their families.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, in his April 6, 2010 report recommending extension of the UN's MINURSO peace-keeping mission to the Western Sahara, stated "the human dimension of the conflict, including the plight of the Western Saharan refugees, is a growing concern."  He urged quick action to expand family visits, improve communication between refugees and loved ones outside the camps, and to conduct a census of refugees to clearly establish who and how many people continue to suffer in the difficult conditions.

The Inter-University Center for Legal Studies and the Moroccan American Center for Policy have published, "Group Rights and International Law: A Case Study on the Sahrawi Refugees in Algeria," which provides historical background on the plight of the Sahrawi refugees in Algeria and outlines concrete actions that the US and the international community can take to resolve their three-decades-old struggle for freedom and basic human rights.

The Moroccan American Center for Policy (MACP) is a non-profit organization whose principal mission is to inform opinion makers, government officials, and interested publics in the United States about political and social developments in Morocco and the role being played by the Kingdom of Morocco in broader strategic developments in North Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East.  For more, please visit

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SOURCE Moroccan American Center for Policy