The extremely harsh and difficult living conditions in the Tindouf camps are exacerbated by a "very tense atmosphere." All exits out of this open prison have been closed for more than three decades, secluding thousands of Moroccan Sahrawis, at a time Morocco is leaving its borders wide open to give them the possibility to return back home in total dignity.

To put an end to this human tragedy, the Moroccan state has gone as far as proposing an autonomy plan for a part of its national territory, the Western Sahara, whose independence is sought by the Algeria-backed Polisario.

A former staff member of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recently made, before the media in Brussels, a damning testimony on this human tragedy.

Eckart von Malsen, an international lawyer who served for six months in the Tindouf camps as member of the UNHCR, told the media accredited to the European Parliament that "from my observation when I was there, the living conditions in the camps are unbearably hard."


The populations held in these camps "live in very harsh conditions and have no prospects for the future,” he told the media on the sidelines of a conference on the situation of Sahrawi women in theTindouf camps. The conference was held last Friday at the European Parliament.

Decrying a "very tense" and a "very heavy" atmosphere in these camps, Von Malsen explained that "all the people who wanted to talk to us were strictly guarded by the Polisario, and each of our moves or acts were closely monitored."

The testimony of this former UNHCR staff member has not actually brought anything new since security experts have repeatedly denounced these practices which are imposed indiscriminately on all foreign delegations visiting the Tindouf camps.


These delegations are constantly escorted from the moment they land at the airport until they board the plane to go back home. The Polisario security services and militia do not allow journalists, photographers, and other humanitarian experts from international NGOs to move freely in the camps or to get in touch with the people without a prior authorization and the presence of Polisario officials.