Covid-19: Polisario diverts, resells humanitarian aid destined to Tindouf camps population – Expert

The polisario diverts and resells the international humanitarian aid destined to the populations held against their will in the Tindouf camps, ignoring the current coronavirus health crisis.

The remarks were made by Colonel Preston McLaughlin, an international expert in national security issues, during a TV program aired by Medi1TV channel Sunday.

The mechanisms for distributing humanitarian aid have not changed for nearly 30 years in the region, he pointed out at the TV program “With Morocco from Washington” on the theme “coronavirus and its repercussions on the situation of the populations held against their will in the Polisario-run Tindouf camps in Algeria.

The expert recalled that in several documents dating back to 2014 and 2015, United Nations bodies, the European Union and non-governmental organizations had expressed their extreme concern over the distribution methods of the aid, as well as over their embezzlement.

Colonel McLaughlin, who had previously worked in MINURSO and visited the Tindouf camps, noted that there is a long history of poor distribution of aid for those held hostage in Tindouf, noting that according to some information, these aids are not only sold in the Algerian market but also in Mauritania and Niger.

Touching on the impact of the COVID-19 on the camps, the expert underlined the dangers looming on the populations of the Tindouf camps, located in a very remote area where sanitary conditions are very poor.

Referring to the reports published by several organizations on the situation in Tindouf, especially after the Algerian Health Ministry confirmed six Covid-19 cases in the region, Colonel McLaughlin noted that these organizations must make their voice heard. He also stressed the need for the United Nations, which decided last October to extend the MINURSO mandate for one year, to take a series of decisions, in particular those relating to the humanitarian aspect.

He also considered that the misappropriation of aid by Algeria and the Polisario, the closing of borders and the isolation of the population constitute elements of the investigation to be carried out by Michelle Bachelet, the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

He urged, in this regard, the UN official to go to Tindouf to see firsthand the situation on the ground.

Responding to a question on the assassination by Algerian forces of Sahrawi individuals who tried to flee from the camps, this associate professor of National Security to the Daniel Morgan Graduate School of National Security stressed that the UN Human Rights Office must ask the Algerian government to investigate or provide explanations for what had happened.

Analyst of the TV program J.D Gorden on his part said that the protection of populations living in the camps is the responsibility of Algeria, a responsibility that it does not shoulder. Worse still, Algeria lets the camps management to the Polisario leaders, dictators that send to jail all their opponents who dare to express their opinion.

The analyst mentioned the restrictions on freedom of movement, noting that the Algerian forces have recently killed two Sahrawis who tried to flee the camps.

J.D Gorden also spoke of restrictions on the freedom of assembly and the corruption of polisario leaders who have luxurious residences in Tindouf.

Regarding the embezzlement of humanitarian aid destined to the camps populations, J.D Gorden described the situation as dangerous. Algeria has failed its obligation, under international law, to protect the rights of the populations held in Tindouf.

Ambassador Adam Ereli, former spokesperson for the US State Department, who hosts the program, said that the past few weeks have been marked by several reports on the suffering and inhuman conditions of the camps populations, especially after the spread of the coronavirus in North Africa and in different regions of Algeria.

The Algerian government and the Polisario have banned entry to and exit from the camps, at a time reports suggest nearly 250 covid-19 cases and some coronavirus-related deaths, Adam Ereli said.