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Wednesday, May 26, 2010     FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

Refugees from Algeria-backed Polisario camps seek haven in Morocco

CAIRO — Hundreds of refugees have fled Polisario camps in Western Sahara for neighboring Morocco.


Morocco has reported that hundreds of refugees fled the Tindouf camps in Western Sahara over the last two months. They said the refugees have expressed their opposition to continued rule by the Algerian-backed Polisario.

"They made it clear that the population held in the camps are fed up with the separatist propaganda and are willing to grab any opportunity to return to Morocco," the official Moroccan news agency, MAP, said.

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In late May, 20 people fled Tindouf for the Moroccan-controlled city of Layoune in Western Sahara. Morocco controls 80 percent of the disputed region, which encompasses 266,000 square kilometers, Middle East Newsline reported.

The latest group of refugees brings to 328 those who fled Tindouf for Morocco since March 25. Officials said Polisario has sought to block the exodus by increasing security around the camps.

"Members of the group expressed their satisfaction with the return to their homeland Morocco, where they can lead a dignified life among their families and recounted aspects of the inhuman treatment endured by the forcibly-detained population in the camps," MAP said.

Morocco has offered autonomy to Western Sahara. Polisario, which threatened to renew war against Morocco, has rejected this and called for a referendum on independence.

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