The Polisario Front continues to deprive children of their basic rights and use them as troops.
This morning, February 22, the separatist group used dozens of children in a military parade organized in the Tindouf refugee camps, southwestern Algeria.
Former Polisario member Mustafa Salma shared several photos documenting the children’s exploitation.
Some of the photos show children wearing military uniforms and marching according to a battle formation. Others show young boys carrying weapons made of cardboard and conducting what appears to be a battle simulation.
The facial expressions of children on the photos show that none of them are enjoying the military exercises. Some of the boys appear sad, while others seem confused.
The shocking images document Polisario’s military training and brainwashing of children, which international NGOs have long denounced.
Polisario’s public demonstration of child exploitation came only 10 days after Morocco warned the international community of such practices.
On February 12, Morocco’s Ambassador to the UN in New York, Omar Hilale, stressed the need to hold accountable the countries that allow the use of child soldiers in armed conflicts.
“States that shelter, arm, finance, and train armed groups which recruit children bear the same criminal responsibility as these groups and must be held accountable by the international community,” Hilale said during a UN meeting on the occasion of the International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers, known as Red Hand Day.
Based on Morocco’s recommendations, both the Polisario Front and Algeria should be held accountable for child exploitation — Polisario for training children to carry arms and depriving them of basic rights, and Algeria for allowing such practices to take place on its soil in the Tindouf camps.
“We are unfortunately still witnessing serious violations of children’s rights in many contexts, including in several refugee camps, where armed groups recruit children and separate them from their families, with total disregard of their fundamental rights,” Hilale said.
Today’s demonstration proves that Morocco’s warnings are not unfounded and confirms the urgency of the issue.