Visit flights between separated Saharawi families resume next April, says UNHCR

Geneva, March 12, 2014 (SPS) - The UN refugee agency announced Thursday that the visit flights programme of Saharawi families living in refugee camps and their relatives in the occupied Western Sahara under the Confidence Building Measures programme will be resumed next April 17th.
In a press release today, the UN agency said that the first series of flights scheduled for 17 April includes four flights suspended in August 2013.
António Guterres, the High Commissioner for Refugees, said: "I am pleased that following intensive negotiations a breakthrough was achieved which enables separated families to see each other again. It is vital that these visits continue as they increase trust and understanding in one of the world's longest-standing refugee situations. I urge all the concerned parties to remain committed to this process and UNHCR stands ready to provide support."
Confidence Building Measures programme includes cultural seminars, a programme of family visits and coordination meetings in Geneva with the two parties, Morocco and Frente Polisario, and two neighbouring countries, Algeria and Mauritania.
For the UNHCR, nearly 20,000 people have taken part in this programme since its inception in 2004, and 150 people have participated in four seminars supported by the Portuguese government.
The 5th Confidence Building Measures seminar is planned in the Azores, Portugal on 16 March and the next coordination meeting will be held in Geneva in June, said the statement. (SPS)