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UN staffers pull out of Western Sahara mission

Rabat accused Ban Ki-Moon earlier this month of no longer being neutral in the Western Sahara dispute

Published: Updated:

Dozens of United Nations international staffers pulled out of their Western Sahara mission on Sunday after Morocco demanded they leave because of Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks about the disputed territory, Morocco’s state news agency and a source said.

MAP state news agency said a “significant number” of U.N. staffers had left Laayoune airport in UN aircraft and commercial flights to Las Palmas in Spain.

The source said 73 UN staffers had left, 10 would leave in the afternoon and one would remain for now.

Rabat accused Ban earlier this month of no longer being neutral in the Western Sahara dispute.

Morocco said he used the word “occupation” to describe its annexation of the region at the centre of a struggle since 1975, when Morocco took over from colonial power Spain.