Member of the European Parliament Olivier Chastel has raised the issue of the ongoing embezzlement by the Polisario and Algeria of EU humanitarian aid sent annually to the Sahrawis sequestered in the Tindouf camps. This confirms a growing concern of MEPs over this misappropriation, which was decried by Italian human rights NGOs.
In his written question addressed to the EU Commission, Mr. Chastel, Vice-Chair of the Budget Committee at the European Parliament, said that despite the promise and assurance given to the EC, “it appears that food aid is still finding its way onto Mauritanian markets”.
For almost 30 years, the European Union has been granting €10 million per year in humanitarian aid to the Sahrawis in the Tindouf camps, recalled the Belgian MEP, citing in this regard the report published by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in 2015. This report has exposed the misappropriation of humanitarian aid and called for an official census of beneficiaries.
In July 2015, at a meeting of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control, the Director-General of the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (DG ECHO) admitted that Algeria was levying a 5 pc tax on the humanitarian aid, underlined the MEP in his question to the EC.
Euro MPs are also concerned over the use of this aid to raise funds for the purchase of weapons to carry out terrorist acts and for recruiting young, vulnerable and disillusioned Sahrawis of the Tindouf camps by extremist groups.
MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk, one of the MEPs that sounded the alarm bell over this situation, said the “Polisario Front is heavily armed and has a large budget for the maintenance of its military equipment”.
Yet, “the Polisario leaders are constantly exploiting the humanitarian situation in the Tindouf camps to draw the EU institutions’ attention to the plight of the Sahrawis of these camps”, underlined Mr. Kyuchyuk.