The confidence-building measures programme, led by UNHCR with assistance from MINURSO, is a programme designed to faciliate greater contact between Saharan communities living in Western Sahara and in the refugee camps in the Tindouf area (Algeria). Four elements are included in the design of the programme, being the exchange of family visits, a free telephone service between the refugee camps and towns in Western Sahara, seminars on non-political topics and a free postal service. To date, the free telephone service and the exchange of family visits have been implemented. Discussions on the holding of seminars is underway. Because of objections raised by authorities on both sides, the postal service has not become a reality for the moment.
MINURSO provides technical, logistical and adminstrative support in implementing the programme. MINURSO engineers and technicians ensure the smooth running of the telephone service benefitting both communities. Between January 2005 and March 2007, some 66,000 calls were made using the CBM telephone system.The Mission also provides support to the exchange of family visits, whereby MINURSO flights between the refugeee camps in Tindouf and cities west of the berm carry passengers who have not been able to see their families for over 30 years. Some 19,000 people have registered to take part in the exchange programme, with some 3,200 having benefitted from the programme's inception in 2004 to March 2007.MINURSO’s civilian police component oversees the safe passage of the flights. Six UNPOL officers (previously named CIVPOL) are provided from UN member states, including Egypt and El Salvador.
UNHCR Confidence Building Measures Western Sahara