The embezzlement of international humanitarian aid sent to Tindouf camps, in south-western Algeria, is a “big scandal”, Chairwoman of the Committee on Budgetary Control at the European Parliament, Ingeborg Grassle, said Monday.
“It is outrageous to charge people in Tindouf camps to get the humanitarian aid that the EU grants them for free”, Grassle said during a meeting of the Committee on Budgetary Control.
Worse, the report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) on the embezzlement of humanitarian aid sent to the populations in Tindouf camps “has taught us that the EU is funding the Polisario, whereas European funds shall not be used to this end”, she added.
“What the EU believes to do in good faith in favor of the populations in Tindouf have been embezzled”, the German MEP from the Group of the European People’s Party (EPP) said, stressing that this is a “big scandal”.
The OLAF report, conducted in 2007 and disclosed recently, slams Algeria and the Polsario for embezzling humanitarian aid for decades to the detriment of the Saharawis living in the Tindouf camps.
The report notes that systematic embezzlement starts in the Algerian port of Oran where a large part of humanitarian aid is diverted away from the intended beneficiaries in the camps.
Among the factors that facilitate such embezzlement is the overestimation of the numbers of the refugees and consequently the aid, the OLAF explained in the report.
The EU has been sending humanitarian aid to the camps since 1975 on the basis of numbers provided by Algerian authorities estimating the camps’ population at 155,000.
Algeria and the Polisario continue to maintain the status-quo by refusing a census of the population in the camps by the UN.