President of the Sahrawi League for Democracy and Human Rights, Mr. Hamada El Baihi, gave a powerful account of the living conditions of the populations of the Tindouf camps, in Algeria, and the extent of the corruption of “polisario” leaders, in the context of the citizen-run show Sahara Debate broadcast on social media.
This human rights defender, a former "polisario" member who returned to his motherland, described his childhood spent in labour camps in Cuba, where he was deported when he was nine, in a journey that took him from Algiers’ port towards Havana aboard a commercial ship.
Mr. El Baihi would not see his family until fourteen years later. In Tindouf, he finds a population that is suffocating under the oppression of “polisario”, which systematically abuses its fundamental rights, in complete impunity and with the active complicity of Algeria, which has delegated to it authority on a part of its territory, a completely illegal act in respect of international law.
While working at the so-called "international cooperation directorate" of "polisario", Mr. El Baihi witnessed first-hand the systematic embezzlement by Algeria and “polisario” of humanitarian aid intended for the population living in the Tindouf camps. At the expense of their health, the most nutritious food is systematically diverted to be sold on the black market in Algeria and some neighbouring countries, while the rest is arbitrarily distributed by “polisario”.
The systematic embezzlement of humanitarian aid by Algeria and “polisario” was highlighted in the reports of several international organizations, notably the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the World Food Program, and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). All these organizations concur to the finding that the embezzlement of humanitarian aid is made possible by the absence of data on the size of the population in the Tindouf camps, due to Algeria’s refusal to allow a census to be conducted in the camps.
The human rights defender says he found in the Southern Provinces a space where the economy is thriving, where the population fully enjoys its political, economic, social, and cultural rights, and where civil society is flourishing.
He unequivocally concluded that « polisario » cannot, by any standard, claim representativeness, being an armed militia that only subsists through repression and impunity. He argued that the only representatives of the Sahrawi population are local officials of the Southern Provinces, who have democratic legitimacy.
Speaking out for the oppressed population of the Tindouf camps, Mr. El Baihi underlined that only the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative would allow this population to emerge from their “pain” and their “suffering”, and called for the United Nations to act swiftly to bring this dispute to an overdue end.
Insisting on the corruption of “polisario”, he concluded his account noting that only “polisario” leaders and their Algerian masterminds benefit from the persistence of the regional dispute on the Moroccan Sahara.
Mr. El Baihi made his statement in the context of the Sahara Debate, a citizen-run show intended to be an open, democratic platform for serene, dispassionate analysis on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara, away from the political propaganda masterminded by Algeria and its “polisario” affiliate.