The MEP urged the EU to monitor the humanitarian aid sent to the Tindouf camps given Algeria’s refusal to conduct a census of the camps’ population.
Rabat – Member of European Parliament (MEP) Ilhan Kyuchyuk denounced Polisario’s exploitation of the dire humanitarian situation in western Algeria’s Tindouf camps during a recent plenary session.
The Tindouf camps are a group of refugee camps under the control of the Polisario Front. Refugees at the camps have long denounced the repression of their basic freedoms.
The Bulgarian politician said Polisario’s exploitation of the camps should be clear to all observers, considering the group’s large military arsenal paired with pleas for food aid.
In a question to EU High Representative for Foreign Policy and Security Josep Borrell, Kyuchyuk said it is well-known that the Polisario Front “is heavily armed and has a large budget for maintenance of its military equipment.”
Polisario leaders, he continued, “are also constantly exploiting the humanitarian situation in the Tindouf camps to draw the attention of the institutions of the European Union to the plight of the populations who live there.” He asked Borell if he was aware of “this surreal situation.”
The MEP added that “faced with the refusal of Algeria … to organize a census of the population of the Tindouf camps, despite repeated calls from the UN Security Council, we are entitled to ask the EU to take measures to monitor humanitarian aid sent to these camps and to ensure that European taxpayers’ money is not wasted.”
Kyuchyuk’s statements come as Algeria intensifies its international appeals for humanitarian aid in the Tindouf camps.
History of exploitation
The MEP’s remarks are not foreign to the European Parliament. In 2015, a report by the EU’s Anti-Fraud Body (OLAF) exposed large-scale humanitarian aid diversion operations in the Tindouf camps for the benefit of separatist Polisario leaders and their Algerian foremen rather than those in need.
Algeria has faced harsh international criticism of its dealings in the Tindouf camps, where it harbors Polisario Front leaders and arms. Algeria transferred power in the camps to the separatist group, a move Morocco slammed as “an unprecedented situation in international law.”
Hubert Seillan, a lawyer at the Paris Appeals Court, said on May 21 that Algeria’s decision to delegate the management of the camps to the Polisario Front, a “criminal, military, mafia” organization, violates international law.
He argued that a state actor cannot delegate sovereignty to a non-state actor, even less so to a military one.
On April 23, a collective of Latin American NGOs denounced “the manipulation of international humanitarian aid” and the Polisario armed forces for “keeping the population in permanent captivity.”
The foundation urged the UN “to investigate the plight of the vulnerable population of Tindouf, who suffer from the iron grip and the tyranny of the Polisario and its mentors.”
Sahrawis are living in fear, said the foundation, after both Algeria and Polisario leaders abandoned the camps amid the COVID-19 crisis.
The foundation warned that if Polisario continues its embezzlement of humanitarian aid in the camps, where food, water, and medical supplies are already scarce, Tindouf residents will suffer disastrous consequences.