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Morocco / Western Sahara: ICRC visits Moroccan prisoners in Polisario hands

19-05-2003 News Release 03/56

From 22 April to 6 May 2003, a team of ICRC delegates, including a doctor and a dental prosthetist, conducted a visit to Moroccan prisoners held by the Polisario Front in detention centres situated in the Tindouf region.

During the visit, the delegates spoke individually with 707 of the remaining 1,157 prisoners.

The purpose of the visit was to assess the general conditions of detention of the prisoners, in particular the effects of captivity on their mental and physical health – most of these men have been detained for over 20 years. During the visit, the ICRC delivered 150 parcels sent by the prisoners'families and collected 1,500 Red Cross messages written by the prisoners. The ICRC also brought in 270 kg of medical supplies and 625 pairs of glasses.

In view of their age, their poor health and the length and conditions of their captivity, the ICRC remains deeply concerned about these men. It therefore calls once again for the swift release, in accordance with the relevant provisions of international humanitarian law, of all the prisoners, beginning with the most vulnerable cases.

The ICRC visits the prisoners twice a year; its previous visit was carried out in December 2002.

    

 Further information: Mohamed Ben Ahmed, ICRC Tunis, tel: ++216 71 960 179