By Dil Bola
The early July release of the UN’s periodic report on Algerian commitments to respect human rights obligations, dictated under international norms, extensively highlighted Algeria’s treatment of Sahrawi refugee camps. The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) based its observations on information provided by the state coupled with NGO reports.
The UN is also concerned about Algeria’s treatment of migrants. Last week, the UN migration agency (IOM) reported on a joint trip with the UNHCR in a mission to observe the condition of migrant deportations.
Both the IOM and the UNHCR noted the necessity of the mission for enhanced cooperation in southern Algeria. They maintained positive dialogue that is crucial for cooperation and reaffirmed their commitment to support and aid asylum seekers within the Algerian state.
The Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration framework is the UN’s primary methodology to enhance coordination with Algerian authorities in respect to the migrant crisis. The framework prioritizes international refugee and human rights principles and standards while facilitating the positive dialogue they aimed to preserve.
The OHCHR committee that initially challenged the state on the treatment of Sahrawis in Tindouf is composed of 18 specialists who expressed their “concerns” that Algeria has delegated jurisdictional powers to Polisario in the camps.
The OHCHR maintained the situation runs afoul of Algeria’s obligations under the Covenant on Human Rights, which dictate the government must “respect and guarantee their rights to all individuals on their territory.”
As one of the “most prestigious and respected committees” this particular body of the UN remains a high-ranking and senior consultant on human rights issues.
Several requests from the Moroccan state had been made to the UN in respect to the fighters of the Polisario Front, thus the issue is not unheard of within the intergovernmental organization. The Western Sahara Conflict has not only resulted in severe human rights abuses but is also among the most protracted refugee crises’ worldwide.
Algeria’s forced exodus of Sahrawi civilians and the forced expulsion of Moroccan expatriates by the Algerian government are all breaches of the Geneva convention.
The convention has seen modifications and additions since its original establishment in 1949, but primarily remains the same. The convention’s goal is to establish “standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war.”
On the migrant issue, the IOM remains confident their work with the UNHCR and the Algerian government will not only serve “as a framework for dialogue with the authorities,” but additionally, will aid “enhanced concerted efforts on migration and asylum issues in Algeria.”