New York, October 07, 2011 (MAP)
New York, October 07, 2011 (MAP)
Several International NGOs denounced, on Wednesday in New York, the abject living conditions prevailing in the polisario-run camps of Tindouf and voiced support for Morocco’s initiative to grant autonomy to its southern provinces, the Sahara.
Speaking during a debate of the UN General Assembly’s 4th Committee, Chairwoman of the International Christian Democratic Women Anna Maria Cervone said the autonomy plan is the “best solution” that will enable the population in the southern provinces to have a larger say in running their local affairs.
She said Morocco’s autonomy initiative is a proposal that aims at finding a lasting settlement to the Sahara issue and will put an end to the suffering inflicted by the polisario militias in the camps of Tindouf.
Cervone warned of the dangers lurking in North Africa because of the persistence of the Sahara conflict. “The presence of armed polisario militias and the movement of arms without any control is a situation that may transform the region into a fertile ground for the implantation of all sorts of armed groups,” she warned.
Jane Bahaijoub, Chairwoman of the British NGO, Family Protection, said that the autonomy plan represents the only feasible and reasonable solution for the population held against their will in the Tindouf camps, deploring the human rights violations perpetrated by the polisario against this population.
Nancy Huff of the US NGO, Teach the Children International, pointed to the need for providing accurate information about the situation in the camps of Tindouf in order to better advance in the settlement of the Sahara issue.
In this regard, she said the polisario provides non-reliable information, such as the claims that all children in the camps are educated where in fact a study centre at the Oxford University proved the contrary.
“This shows that the polisario do not ensure all children in the camps receive primary education,” said a Huff.
The polisario is also involved in recruiting the camps’ children for armed terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), she noted.
Under-age marriage is another practice that was denounced in the strongest terms by petitioners before the 4th Committee. Speaking in this regard, Amy Karimi of the US NGO, the Borrowed Voice, spoke out against this rampant practice which the polisario take advantage of for political interests.
“Girls at the age of 13 are forced to get married to provide the polisario leaders with progeny to pursue their schemes,” he said.
Tanya Warburg of the British NGO, Freedom for All, called upon the polisario to open the camps and let the population have a free choice whether to return to Morocco or stay.
The improvement of the living conditions of the population in the southern provinces stand in stark contrast to the sordid situation endured in the camps, noted the petitioners. In this respect, Donovan Williams from the British NGO, Families in Union, pointed to the measures undertaken by Morocco to attract investment to the southern provinces, set up infrastructure and provide public services.
Echoing him, David Eriksson of the Security and human development organization said Morocco continues to earmark considerable resources to boost development in the southern provinces.