Several MEPs are calling for an audit of European aid diverted by Polisario and Algeria.
Rabat – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are sounding the alarm on humanitarian aid diversion and “extrajudicial executions” in the Tindouf camps at the hands of Algeria and Polisario.
MEPs unveiled a draft resolution on Thursday denouncing the continued embezzlement of humanitarian aid in Tindouf, calling for an audit of European aid diverted by Polisario and Algeria.
The July 9 resolution references a 2015 report by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). The publication exposed Polisario’s exploitation of the EU’s €105 million humanitarian aid package granted for the benefit of the Tindouf camps’ population between 1994 and 2004. The report found that instead of using the aid to help those in need, Polisario used the funds to purchase arms.
“Algeria is said to have levied a 5% tax on this aid and to have refused requests for a refugee census made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1977, 2003, 2005 and 2015,” the draft resolution adds.
The draft resolution calls on the EU “to work jointly with the United Nations to supervise a census of the refugees in the Tindouf camps in collaboration with the competent authorities in Algeria” and audit Polisario’s use of European aid since 2015.
Several MEPs, including Anna Bonfrisco and Ilhan Kyuchyuk, have recently brought the issue of aid diversion to light. They argue that despite the European Commission’s attempts to end the Polisario Front’s embezzlement of funds and supplies, the criminal activity continues abetted, even during the COVID-19 pandemic when the camps’ population are in dire need of medicine, food, clean water, and sanitary living conditions.
Thursday’s plenary session also shed light on what Italian MEP Silvia Sardone described as Algeria’s “extrajudicial executions” in the Tindouf camps.
Sardone recounted how on April 28, the Algerian army opened fire on a group of people who were attempting to move between two refugee camps in Tindouf, injuring three and arresting six others.
When the camps’ residents decried the incident, Algerian authorities forced the relatives of the injured into silence, warning that the six detainees would not be released if the UN High Commissioner for Refugees received any formal complaints.
Sardone argued that the April 28 shooting is not an isolated incident. Several NGOs have reported on the use of firearms against civilians in the Tindouf camps and denounced at least eight assassinations since 2014, she said.
Algeria, however, has never opened investigations into the incidents, despite being the refugees’ host country, therefore “violating its obligation to protect the right to life and the freedoms of movement, expression, and settlement established by the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.”
Sardone called on the European Commission to push Algerian authorities to open judicial investigations into the incidents.