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Thursday 11 October 2018

4th Committee: International Humanitarian Activists Express Outrage at Embezzlement of Aid Sent to Tindouf Camps Populations

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4th Committee: International Humanitarian Activists Express Outrage at Embezzlement of Aid Sent to Tindouf Camps Populations

Humanitarian activists on Thursday expressed outrage at the embezzlement by Polisario leaders of humanitarian aids sent to Tindouf camps populations in southwestern Algeria.

Speaking before the 4th Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, Eric Cameron, president of the Norwegian NGO "World Action for Refugees", lamented the inaction surrounding the Tindouf camps, noting that parties have failed in their responsibility to help these people by not seeking a political solution.

A solution can be achieved through the Moroccan autonomy initiative, which, he said, guarantees good governance and fundamental rights.

Calling on the international community to conduct a census in order to define the true number of the camps’ populations, he stressed the need to crack down on racketeers who embezzle supplies of food and medical resources.

The embezzlement of humanitarian aid by some people who enrich themselves at the expense of the populations held in the camps is a "heinous crime", he said.

He also underlined the need to give the camp-dwellers a free choice to resettle in a society of their own choice.

For her part, Nancy Huff, president of the organization "Teach the Children International", recalled the report published by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in 2015 which revealed that for years, vast amounts of humanitarian aid sent to Sahrawis living in the Tindouf camps had been "diverted" and that these diversions were operated by and for the benefit of some leaders of the Polisario.

Had simple steps been taken to stop the theft of humanitarian aid 43 years ago, the Sahara issue could have been settled soon after its inception, she pointed out.

Today, the diversion of aid is rampant, marked by a web of deception reaching across North Africa, she said, urging the United Nations to conduct a head count of Tindouf camp residents and to properly oversee all aid designated for the camps.

Furthermore, the Committee should accept Morocco’s autonomy plan as the simplest and fastest resolution of the issue, she added.

For her part, Donna Sams, from the Antioch Community Church, recalled that she made three visits to the Tindouf camps, which allowed her to see firsthand that the population was living in impoverished conditions.

The current leaders of the Polisario have taken the initiative to collaborate with "rogue states and malicious entities infiltrated in the region, inside and around the Tindouf camps," she added.

She asked the international community to accelerate its efforts to improve the conditions in the Tindouf camps, where people live in impoverished conditions.

Warning that the region could become a magnet for countries and leaders with an agenda of war and destabilization, she asked for the development of a comprehensive data-collection plan to know how many people are in the camps.

MAP 12 October 2018