A delegation from the International Red Cross has been making a tour of countries involved in the Western Sahara conflict to help arrange a future exchange of prisoners.
LV EXTERIOR Red Crescent building, Nouakchott, Mauritania.
SV INTERIOR International Red Cross Committee member Fred Isher (right) standing with Mauritanian Red Crescent Secretary-General Ely Ould Sidi el Mehdi.
CU Regional delegate for International Red Cross, Jean de Courten, with Ould Sidi talking to Mauritanian Red Crescent official.
Initials S 20.00
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Background: A delegation from the International Red Cross has been making a tour of countries involved in the Western Sahara conflict to help arrange a future exchange of prisoners. Algerian-backed Polisario guerrillas, have been fighting for the independence of the former Spanish Sahara against combined forces from Morocco and Mauritania. The Spanish Sahara was partitioned between the two countries early last year, but the Polisario, made up largely of Saharan nomads, declared their independence unilaterally.
SYNOPSIS: This effort by the International Red Cross to collect the names of prisoners on both sides of the dispute could be the first step in any future settlement of the dispute. The delegation arrived in Nouakchott on Tuesday (30 August) where they had talks with Mauritanian officials including the Secretary General of the Mauritanian Red Crescent Ely Ould Sidi El Mehdi. The delegation has already been to Morocco where they saw a group of prisoners captured during an engagement at Amgalla n the Western Sahara. The head of the Red Cross group, Jean de Courtan, said his delegation will be contacting Polisario and Algerian prisoners being held in Nouakchott so that a list of names can be made for an eventual exchange once agreement on principles has been made by the countries involved. From Mauritania, the Red Cross group will visit the Polisario stronghold of Dindouf to make contact with Moroccan and Mauritanian prisoners.