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24 July 2017 10:39 (South Africa)

UN chief worries about health of Western Saharan hunger striker

UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon wants the body’s mediator on Western Sahara to encourage a new round of talks, to save the life of an activist fighting for the region’s independence from Morocco. Moroccan authorities disallowed Aminatou Haidar to return home after a trip to New York. Since then she has been on a hunger strike in the airport building at Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands. Morocco refuses to let her return unless she swears loyalty to King Mohammed, whose father annexed Western Sahara in 1975 after Spanish colonial forces left. The one-month hunger strike has left Haidar’s life at risk. Morocco has offered autonomy for the territory, but the local Polisario Front wants a referendum in the territory that includes the option of full independence. After 34 years, it’s become a pretty intractable problem, but the UN’s Ban doesn’t want Haidar to die for it. Read more: Reuters, Al Jazeera

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