Morocco denounces Algeria’s opposition to census of Tindouf Sahrawis

omar-hilaleMorocco vehemently denounced in New York on Thursday Algerian authorities’ refusal to allow the organization of a census of the Tindouf camps populations and blasted the Polisario leaders and their Algerian accomplices for diverting, in a massive and systematic way, the humanitarian aid destined to these populations.

Addressing the UN General Assembly 4th committee, Morocco’s permanent representative to the UN, Omar Hilale, recalled that the Tindouf Sahrawi populations have been, for years, deprived of the humanitarian assistance that was embezzled and resold by the Polisario leaders. These leaders have thus amassed huge personal fortunes at the expense of the starving populations.

The Moroccan diplomat supported his statements by the damning report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) which revealed earlier this year the large-scale and systematic diversion of humanitarian assistance destined to the camps population. He recalled that OLAF asserted in its report that these diversions were made possible, notably because Algerian authorities and the polisario inflate the number of the Tindouf camps inhabitants, in the absence of a census of these inhabitants.

The Moroccan diplomat also recalled that following the release of the report, the European Parliament adopted, late April 2015, a resolution confirming such diversions and asking that corrective measures are taken to prevent once and for all that the humanitarian assistance is embezzled.

Omar Hilale who insisted on the census issue expressed Morocco’s deep concern about the registration of the Tindouf camps populations.

The census is not a voluntary formality but a UNHCR mandatory obligation and an inalienable responsibility of the host country of these camps, Algeria in this case, he said, recalling that this is clearly set out in the 1951 Refugee Convention.

Forty years after the appeal of the former High Commissioner for Refugees, Aga Khan, and the calls launched by all his successors as well as by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council, “the world has the right to know the number and the origin of the thousands of people still living in in the Tindouf camps, erected on the Algerian territory,” said the Moroccan ambassador before the 4th Committee which is continuing debates on the Western Sahara conflict.