U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visits refugees in southern Algeria to help restart negotiations over the fate of Western Sahara. Diane Hodges reports.
Refugees from the North African disputed territory of Western Sahara cheer --- as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives at their camp in southern Algeria. These ethnic Sahrawis have been living here for 40 years, since they fled fighting between the Moroccan government and guerrillas from the Polisario Front backed by Algeria. A U.N.-brokered ceasefire ended the fighting in 1991, but efforts to find a political solution to decide the fate of Western Sahara have languished. The refugees are hoping some personal attention from Ban can restart the process. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.N SECRETARY GENERAL, BAN KI-MOON, SAYING: "I have been heartened by the faith the Sahrawi people put in the United Nations, its principles and international law. Let us match this with determination to alleviate your plight and resolve the long standing conflict for the future, for the better future of all Sahrawi." Western Sahara, rich in phosphate deposits and possibly offshore oil and gas, is currently claimed by Morocco. Polisario, and a number of African states, want to hold a long-delayed referendum-promised in the 1991 U.N. ceasefire deal-to decide the region's future.