Tindouf: Polisario, Algeria Distraught by EU’s Call for a Census

mogheriniThe Polisario is seemingly receiving blows from all sides. Just few days after it was dealt a blow by the Swedish Government, the separatist front is denounced by the European Union as the EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini called for the organization of a census of the populations living in the Tindouf camps, Algeria.

Mogherini expressed this EU requirement, Thursday, January 21, before the Budget Control Committee of the European Parliament, meeting in Strasbourg. She brought up again the issue of the massive misappropriation of international humanitarian aid destined to the Tindouf camps populations.

It was OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, that had revealed in February 2015, a large-scale embezzlement system masterminded by dignitaries of the Polisario and their Algerian accomplices. Thus, a large part of the humanitarian assistance, including the €10 million worth of aid extended by the EU annually, was diverted.

OLAF had conducted investigations on the ground and found out that a significant portion of the humanitarian aid was systematically diverted as soon as the cargoes arrived in the Algerian port of Oran. The high value and good quality goods were stored in warehouses wherefrom they were conveyed to Mauritania, Mali and even Algeria to be sold on the black market. And of course, the returns of this robbery were transferred to the banking accounts of some Polisario leaders.

This diversion that lasted for years has shocked the European public opinion and parliamentarians and prompted them to demand accountability and ask the EU executive to take concrete measures. It is in the context of these pressures that Federica Mogherini called for a census of the Tindouf camps population.

But for both Algeria and the Polisario, the issue of the census in the camps is highly sensitive because it may harm the very lucrative business these precarious camps represent for them. Maintaining these camps in a desert area for over 40 years is not only a source of considerable income embodied in the international humanitarian aid, but also a subterfuge to perpetuate the Western Sahara conflict, which continues to poison relations between Algeria and Morocco.

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