Rabat – The Polisario Front has deplored its lack of sovereignty over the Tindouf camps it runs, where thousands of Sahrawis live.
Bachir Mustapha Sayed, a senior Polisario “official” and brother of the co-founder of the Polisario Front, El Ouali Mustapha Sayed, complained about the restrictions that the Algerian government put in place in an interview with pro-Polisario news outlet ECSahraui (ECS).
While Algeria describes itself as a “hospitable land” for Sahrawis, the leading member of the Polisario Front complained that the seperatist group’s leadership has no sovereignty over the Tindouf camps and almost no access to Algerian institutions, including ports and airports.
“The Algerian authorities have given us access only through the port of Oran and informed us about the new measures four months ago,” Sayed said.
He claimed that humanitarian caravans destined for Sahrawi camps can only “disembark in the port of Oran, and not in Ghazaouet or Mostaganem.”
Sayed added that Algerian port authorities have been holding 16 vans loaded with aid for Sahrawi families for 48 days at a port in Algeria.
The “official” complained that Algeria also issued in the last four months a statement that prohibits vans from traveling with packages to Sahrawi camps without a permit from the Algerian foreign affairs ministry.
According to the Polisario “official,”the only association to have been granted a permit is the Sahrawi branch of the Red Crescent.
Sayed explained that there is an agreement between the Red Crescent, the camp “authorities,” and the Algerian government that allows vehicles carrying aid access to Tindouf via routes approved by Algeria’s foreign ministry.
The “official” told the pro-Polisario news outlet that the aid “trucks have broken the ministry’s rules on various occasions” in order to bring packages into the camps.
He claimed that Algeria is opening its doors to “individuals and groups of women and men seeking freedom and dignity.”
A former Polisario member and critic of both the front and Algeria, Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, condemned Baladhan’s statement.
In response to the claims, Mustafa Salma argued that “Sahrawis do not have freedom in the Algerian land.”
“Their freedom of movement within the Algerian territory is prohibited [unless they have] the permission of the Algerian military,” he said.
The activist also spoke about restrictions on Sahrawis, emphasizing that they are denied the right to work in Algerian institutions.
Several Sahrawi activists have testified to the inhumane conditions in the camps. The recent report of the United Nations Secretary-General also deplored the situation in the camps.
In his report, Antonio Guterres warned the world of the alarming situation in the camps, citing malnutrition and anemia as major sources of concern.
The Polisario Front has an unfriendly history with social aid directed to Sahrawis, with several allegations of embezzlement of humanitarian aid.