The Sahrawis detained in the Tindouf camps in Algeria are “captured populations”, declared Lahcen Haddad, co-president of the Morocco-EU joint parliamentary committee, in a letter addressed to his European counterparts. “This situation worries us” because a large part of the sequestered Sahrawis are “Moroccans”, indicates the letter.
Questioning the European deputies questioned on the systematic violations of human rights in the Tindouf camps by the Algerian authorities, the Moroccan deputies sent a letter to their counterparts to express their concerns and their deep concerns for their compatriots detained by the ‘Algeria.
“This situation worries us as Moroccan deputies, because a good part of the populations sequestered in the Tindouf camps are Moroccan Sahrawis”, underlined Lahcen Haddad, in this letter.
Despite calls from the UN Security Council and the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for Algeria to count and register Sahrawi “refugees” as stipulated by international law, the identity and number of these presumed refugees remain a mystery, he said.
According to UNHCR figures from 2018, the number of people living in the Tindouf camps would be 90,000 people, with an addition of 35,000 additional rations that were added due to the impact of floods on the most vulnerable. . The number was kept in case of another natural disaster.
“Algeria and the Polisario claim that more refugees are living in the camps and receiving humanitarian aid in light of these, most likely, exaggerated estimates. But they continually refuse to count and register ‘refugees’ despite constant pleas from UNHCR and the UN Security Council,” Lahcen Haddad wrote.
If Algeria considers the Moroccan Sahrawis (as well as others coming from the Sahel region) on its soil as “refugees”, for Morocco, these people are “captured populations” detained against their will in the camps of Tindouf.
Their inability to move in Algeria or abroad and even less, their right to return to Morocco is not allowed to them. They live in camps and makeshift buildings in the middle of the desert, are not allowed to engage in gainful activities, and are therefore condemned to live in poverty and deprivation.
Moroccan deputies denounced the “systematic violations” and the “disastrous situation” of human rights in these Tindouf camps located not far from the border with Morocco.
Indeed, Algeria does not apply the Geneva Convention of 1951 nor the 1967 Protocol relating thereto to Sahrawis. Mr. Haddad questioned the European parliamentarians on the situation of these Sahrawis and this culture of “warehousing” imposed on them by Algeria and which is contrary to the spirit and the letter of international law on refugees.
In addition, Algeria and its Polisario militia (created to threaten the integrity of Morocco since it recovered its territory formerly colonized by Spain, editor’s note) have been diverting international aid intended for Sahrawi “refugees” for nearly 50 years in absolute impunity.
This aid contributes indirectly to maintaining the status quo and to continuing the oppression of the Sahrawis who have become for all these years a business that brings in as much for Algeria as the Polisario.
In 2015, the European Union’s Anti-Fraud Office discovered that the European Union’s humanitarian aid intended for refugees sequestered by Algeria, the amount of which reached 105 million euros, was being diverted by the Polisario to activities such as the purchase of weapons.
On July 24, 2020, European parliamentarians tabled a motion for a resolution on this subject denouncing the diversion of this “humanitarian aid” to finance an armed separatist organization.
- Haddad therefore urged all MEPs to take the necessary measures to encourage Algeria to put an end to this illegal situation and to make it assume all its responsibility in the management of the camps and the free movement of the population and free access to Algerian justice.
The Moroccan official also called on the human rights subcommittee of the European Parliament to carry out a full investigation into the illegal use of child soldiers by the Polisario. It recalls that the recruitment and use of children under the age of 15 as soldiers is prohibited by international humanitarian law. These practices are considered a war crime by the International Criminal Court.