U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging the Security Council to restore the full peacekeeping mission in Western Sahara, warning of full-scale war if the mandate is not renewed.
Ban said in a report to the council that "terrorists and radical elements" can be expected to exploit the situation after Morocco expelled 83 U.N. staffers from Western Sahara last month.
"The risk of a rupture of the cease-fire and resumption of hostilities, with its attendant danger of escalation into full-scale war, will grow significantly in the event that MINURSO [the U.N. peacekeeping mission] is forced to depart or find itself unable to execute the mandate that the Security Council has set," he said.
The Security Council plans to vote next month on a one-year extension of the mission that began in 1991 to monitor a cease-fire between Morocco and independence fighters from the Polisario Front.
Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975 and considers it part of its territory.
During a recent visit to a camp in Algeria for Western Saharan refugees, Ban infuriated Morocco by calling it an "occupation."
Morocco responded by expelling 83 U.N. staffers and shutting down a military liaison office, severely hobbling the mission.