Winds of change are blowing on the Tindouf camps with the emergence of a new opposition movement calling for a political and mutually acceptable solution to the Sahara issue.
The movement which calls itself Sahraouis for Peace breaks away with the ideological rhetoric of the Polisario and its mentor Algeria, reluctant to engage in negotiations towards a mutually acceptable political solution on the basis of Morocco’s autonomy initiative.
The group has issued a statement that deplores Polisario’s rigid and unrealistic stands on the issue while attaching full responsibility to the Algerian-funded separatist militia for the suffering of the Sahraouis held against their will in the Polisario-run camps.
“The Polisario front is outdated and unable to renew itself as it lacks the willingness and capacity to open up to new initiatives,” the group said in a statement.
The signatories of the statement also blamed the Polisario leadership for taking advantage of the status quo and maintaining an authoritarian grip on the camps while imposing an impasse on the Sahara negotiations.
The move was welcomed largely in Morocco where most observers see that the new movement shows the disenchantment within the Sahraouis in Tindouf with the lethargy of the Polisario leadership and their corrupt modus-operandi with the blessing of Algeria.
Separately, rights groups rang the alarm bell asking Algerian authorities to assume their responsibility as the host country of the Tindouf camps and take measures to avert an outbreak of the coronavirus there.
Actually, the camps populations, locked down without water, food, medicine, sanitary facilities or protective equipment against covid-19 which has already claimed several lives, feel abandoned as the polisario leaders ignore their grievances, while the host country, Algeria, has closed its borders to protect itself against coronavirus infection.
Although news coming out of the Tindouf camps has been minimal because of the lockdown, Sahrawi women managed to leak a voice note describing their unbearable situation, where famine, thirst, and repression are their daily lot. Through their scream of distress, these women wanted to draw attention to their ordeal.
The alarm bell was seemingly heard in the European Parliament, where MEP Frédérique Ries addressed a question to the European Commission, raising concern over the alarming health situation in the Tindouf camps amidst the spread of COVID-19.
The MEP wondered whether the European Commission has raised the issue with the Algerian authorities and what measures it plans to take to ensure that Algeria guarantees the security of the populations in the Tindouf camps and their protection against COVID-19.
The MEP insisted that the responsibility for protecting the camps’ populations in this context of health crisis rests with Algeria.
Will Algeria heed the calls?