The question of embezzlement of aid destined for the Tindouf Camps adds to worries over deteriorating conditions in the camps.
The WFP announced on December 17 that it welcomes the EU contribution, adding that the European organization supports the WFP nutrition activities.
The WFP shared some alarming statistics about the rate of malnutrition among Sahrawis children and women.
A recent survey by the WFP and the UNHCR found that the overall acute malnutrition rates among the Sahrawi children under five “reached 7.6 percent in 2019 compared to 4.6 percent in 2016.”
The survey also found that “half of the children under five and half of women aged 15-49 suffer from anemia.”
The EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid’s Head of office in Algeria, Patrick Barbier, said that the “increasing malnutrition trend in the Sahrawi refugee camps is worrying as it can lead to more deaths and disease.”
The EU grant seeks to make “sure that refugee children and mothers are helped and spared unnecessary suffering. Sahrawi refugee families can continue to rely on the EU for vital humanitarian support,” he added.
The joint statement from both the UNHCR and WFP echoes the concerns of the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, who spoke about the worrying statistics of malnutrition among Sahrawis in the camps.
In October, the UN chief issued his annual report on the situation in Western Sahara, addressing the malnutrition crisis in the camps.
In the fifth section, paragraph 63, Guterres said that malnutrition is one of the biggest concerns along with the prevalence of anemia.
The UN official recalled that the UN organizations operating in the camps, including the UNHCR “, continued to work closely together on the treatment and prevention of anemia, stunting, and malnutrition among young children, girls, pregnant and lactating women.”
The UN chief also warned that indicators studying malnutrition and anemia are a major concern.
Guterres also cited in his report the same data that the WFP included on its press release about the EU contribution, emphasizing that “the results have shown a worsening situation compared with 2016.”
Guterres touched on concerns shared by human rights organizations, including funding issues.
According to the report, the “main challenge for humanitarian actors remained the funding shortfall.”
A failure to address aid embezzlement
Despite warnings, the UN has failed to address the poor conditions that have led to that widespread disease and malnutrition in the camps. The embezzlement of humanitarian aid sent to Sahrawis in the camps in another issue in dire need of addressing.
Several reports have exposed alleged embezzlement involving the Polisario Front and Algeria.
Earlier this year, the president of the Canary Sahrawi Forum Miguel Angel Ortiz spoke about the embezzlement of aid and corruption in the camps in an opinion piece published by La Provincia.
Ortiz warned that the camps experienced the “misappropriation of some €2.5 million of humanitarian aid” from the international community destined for Sahrawis living in Tindouf camps.
Last year, Pro-Polisario news outlets Futuro Sahara reported that Sahrawis were surprised to find popular aid products on display in Algerian grocery shops.