Minister of State Kitt, in Tindouf, marks the release of Moroccan Prisoners of War following intervention by Ireland
On behalf of the Government, the Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights, Tom Kitt T.D., today welcomed the release of a further group of 100 Moroccan prisoners in Tindouf, Algeria. The release follows representations made by Ireland, including in its role as Presidency of the European Union. The prisoners, some of whom have been held for over 20 years, were captured during the armed conflict between Polisario (the national liberation organisation representing the Saharoui people) and Morocco which took place between 1975-1991.
Speaking in Tindouf, where he had the opportunity to meet some of those being released, the Minister of State said;
“During my meetings with Polisario representatives who visited Dublin in recent months I exhorted them to urgently consider further prisoner releases. I stressed that the continued holding of such prisoners could only be detrimental to the Polisario’s broader political cause. Following on from this I am delighted to be here today to bear witness to the release of these prisoners which can only be seen as a positive step forward by the Polisario.”
Minister Kitt added “I call on all sides to build on this constructive development without further delay, with a view to the early release of all remaining prisoners and the resolution of other outstanding issues of importance to Polisario and the Kingdom of Morocco in accordance with obligations set out under international humanitarian law”.
Minister Kitt also toured the refugee camps in which 160,000 Saharoui refugees from Western Sahara live, having fled into Algeria as a result of the conflict.
Minister Kitt pledged the continued support of the European Union, and Ireland in particular, for the ongoing efforts of the UN Secretary General, and his newly appointed special representative, Mr Alvaro de Soto, to reach a mutually acceptable political solution to the Western Sahara issue within the UN framework.