In a Letter to Security Council, Morocco Calls for Census in Tindouf

Omar Hilale, Morocco’s Ambassador to the United Nations, addressed on Monday a letter to the Security Council on the embezzlement of humanitarian aid by the Polisario and Algeria.

In the letter obtained by Morocco World News, the Moroccan diplomat draws the attention of the Security Council to the letter that the Moroccan Delegate Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mbarka Bouaida, addressed on March 20 to the United Nations Secretary General.

In that letter, the Moroccan official informed the UNSG of the report released by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), which substantiated the direct involvement of Algerian senior officials and Polisario leaders in the embezzlement of humanitarian aid destined for the population in the Tindouf camps.

Omar Hilale stressed that the report confirms “with supporting evidence the fraudulent, systematic, large-scale embezzlement of humanitarian aid destined for these camps, and the proven responsibility of Algeria and the Polisario in this regard.”

After enumerating in details the most important highlights of the report, the Moroccan envoy stresses that the findings of the OLAF report converges with “inspection services of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Program (WFP) regarding the embezzlement of humanitarian aid to the camps.”

Hilale emphasizes that the OLAF, the UNHCR and WFP highlight the need for a census of the population to be conducted in the Tindouf camps.

“The Kingdom of Morocco calls on the members of the Security Council to demand from the host country, Algeria, to respect its international obligations and allow for the census and the registration of the population of the Tindouf camps, in accordance with Security Council resolution 1977 (2011), 2044 (2012), 2099 (2013), and 2152 (2014) on the Sahara issue,” Hilale said.

“It is, in fact, the only way to assess the humanitarian needs of these populations, to ensure that the assistance is adequate to these needs and to guarantee the international protection of these populations,” he concluded.

In his annual report on the “Situation in the Western Sahara,” released last Friday, Ban Ki-moon highlighted the need to conduct a census in the Tindouf camps in Algeria.

“I note continuing questions about the number of refugees requiring assistance. These highlight the need to address the registration of the refugee population,” the UN chief said in paragraph 77 of his annual report.

This is the first time the UNSG’s annual report on the territorial dispute has included a recommendation calling for a census in the Tindouf camps.

Systematic embezzlement if humanitarian aid

The OLAF report, which was released last winter, showed that humanitarian aid extended by the EU ended up in the black markets in Algeria, Mauritania, and Mali.

According to the 250-page report, fraud was made possible by the overestimation of the population in the Tindouf camps. The UNHCR does not have an updated census of these populations due to the “Polisario’s refusal for the last 39 years to allow a census.”

The OLAF report harshly criticized Algeria and the Polisario for embezzling humanitarian aid for decades to the detriment of the Saharawis living in the Tindouf camps.

According to the report, Algerian and Polisario leaders have, for decades, replaced good quality food destined for the camps with food of lesser quality and sold it in the black markets of Algeria, Mauritania and Mali.

The report also shows that the “embezzlement of humanitarian aid serves for the personal enrichment of those responsible of this fraud.