Despite being on Algerian soil, the Tindouf camps are under the control of the Polisario Front.
Rabat – Morocco expressed its concerns over Algeria’s transfer of power to the Polisario Front separatist group in the Tindouf camps, calling the move “an unprecedented situation in international law.”
The Tindouf camps in western Algeria are a group of refugee camps under the control of the Polisario Front. Refugees at the camps have for long denounced the repression of their basic freedoms.
Morocco’s Permanent Representative at the UN Office in Geneva, Omar Zniber, expressed the country’s concerns on Wednesday, March 11.
Speaking at a meeting of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Zniber denounced the militarization of the Tindouf camps, in violation of the UNHCR conclusions stipulating that the host countries assume the responsibility of ensuring the civil and humanitarian aspects of asylum.
Algerian authorities also present biased figures about the population in the Tindouf camps, the diplomat argued.
“The representative of the host country (Algeria) persists in providing random, fictitious, and exaggerated figures, which are politically motivated and at odds with the humanitarian nature of discussions within the Standing Committee,” he said.
The only figures that must be taken into consideration are those resulting from a formal census of the population, according to the standards and criteria established by the UNHCR, stressed Zniber.
The representative relayed Morocco’s calls for the UNHCR to conduct a census of the Tindouf camps population, in order to improve the integrity of the organization’s operations and to reduce the risks of fraud and embezzlement.
In December 2019, former leading Polisario member, Mustafa Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, told MWN about the Polisario Front’s exploitation of Sahrawis living in the camps and its silencing of opposition voices.
In January, the separatist group mobilized armored vehicles and tanks to disperse peaceful protests in front of the “presidency” headquarters in Rabouni, near Tindouf.