Sahara: Moroccan parliamentarians challenge EU over human rights abuses in Tindouf

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The human rights situation in the Tindouf camps is catastrophic. Violations of human rights are systematic there. The deputies, who are members of the Morocco-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, wanted to make their European partners aware of this issue. Thus, on Tuesday, Moroccan deputies questioned their European colleagues about the catastrophic situation in the Tindouf camps in the southwestern part of Algeria, where the so-called “refugees” have been kept for decades, the daily reports. Al Ahdath Al Maghribia in its issue of Thursday, May 19th.

In an open letter to MEPs, Lahcen Haddad, co-chair of the Morocco-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee, stressed that this situation worries Moroccan parliamentarians because a large part of the population sequestrated in the Tindouf camps is made up of Sahrawis. .

He also specified that Algeria regards Moroccan Sahrawis (as well as others from the Sahel region) on its land as “refugees”, while Morocco regards them as “captured populations” detained against their will in the Tindouf camps. But even though Algeria considers them “refugees”, Algeria does not apply the 1951 Geneva Convention to them, much less the 1967 Protocol. In addition to being “stored”, their free movement is controlled. They are therefore not allowed to travel to third countries or to engage in professional activity. In this letter, Mr Haddad criticized this “retention” in violation of the spirit and letter of international refugee law.

Despite regular calls from the UN Security Council and the UNHCR to Algeria to identify and register Sahrawi “refugees” as enshrined in international law, the identity and number of these alleged refugees remains a mystery, especially the deputy, quoted by the newspaper.

In its note of 28 September 2018, the UNHCR confirmed that the official planning figure for “Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf camps in Algeria” was 90,000, a figure that has been raised by 35,000 since 2006 due to the floods. region, Mr Haddad recalled. However, the UNHCR, he added, will continue to rely on these figures until a census is completed.

Algeria and the Polisario nevertheless continue to confirm that a larger number of refugees live in the camps and receive humanitarian aid in light of these estimates, which are likely to be exaggerated, the former minister stressed. But they constantly refuse to identify and register “refugees”, despite constant calls from the UNHCR and the UN Security Council. Anecdotal evidence also shows that part of the humanitarian aid is sold by Polisario officials in the black market, in southern Algeria and the Sahel region.

In this context, the day continues, the Honorable Member recalled that in 2015 the European Union Anti-Fraud Office had been able to establish that the EU’s humanitarian aid, which had amounted to 105 million over the years, was regularly been redirected by Polisario to activities such as the purchase of weapons.

In his letter to the MEPs, the co-chair of the Morocco-EU Joint Committee also mentioned the issue of child soldiers. He therefore called on the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights to carry out a full inquiry into Polisario’s illegal use of child soldiers. He did much to remind in this regard that the Front boasts of using children in the conflict. In fact, its propaganda business regularly publishes videos of children in weary, indoctrinated, and trained in combat. Sir. Haddad, the newspaper concludes, therefore called on all MEPs to take the necessary measures to encourage Algeria to put an end to this illegal situation and make it assume all its responsibilities with regard to the management of the camps, the population’s free movement and free access to Algerian justice.

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