The Algerian-backed Polisario has imposed a curfew in the Tindouf camps on May 2 to quell a protest that was supposed to be staged on May 3 by the disenchanted population held in inhumane living conditions in south-western Algeria, Morocco’s le 360.ma news website reported.
Battered by a series of diplomatic setbacks at the African and international levels, the Polisario separatists are resorting to violent measures to silence opponents in the Tindouf camps. The curfew was imposed to avert a protest against the polisario leadership and to vent anger at its propaganda especially after it tried to portray its presence in the Guerguarat as a military gain, a chimera that vanished hours before the adoption last Friday of UN Security Council resolution 2351, which calls for a census of the population held in the camps.
The withdrawal of the Polisario from the Guerguarat came after pressure from the international community on the Polisario to retreat from the buffer strip, which under the 1991 cease fire agreement, should remain a demilitarized area.
The Polisario militiamen, in connivance with the Algerian army, have reinforced the siege on the Tindouf camps to prevent Sahrawis from fleeing. The Algerian army has on multiple occasions fired at any Sahrawi who attempts to leave the camps. Last March, Algerian soldiers fired without warning at a car outside the Tindouf camps, killing Kari Mohamed Ali El Ouali and his friend Ahmed Lebouiya Sahraou.
International rights watchdogs, including Human Rights watch and Amnesty International, have on multiple reports drew attention to the plight of the population held against their will in Tindouf where the Algerian state has relegated the destiny of thousands of Sahraouis to the mercy of a separatist militias that trades in their suffering.
From humanitarian aid embezzlement by the Polisario officials to slavery and forced disappearances in the Tinfoud camps, Algeria has abdicated its responsibilities and forsaken a civilian population to the mercy of a separatist militia.
UN Security Council resolution 2351 has once more reiterated the call on Algeria to uphold its responsibility to allow a census of the population held in the camps.
Algeria’s obstinacy to allow a head-count of the population of the Polisario-run camps prompted the EU to reduce aid sent to these camps in a bid to curb humanitarian aid diversion.
The decision was taken following a report by the EU anti-fraud office (OLAF) denouncing the embezzlement of humanitarian aid by the Polisario leadership and Algerian officials. Therefore, the European Commission decided to cut aid commensurately with the estimated number of 90,000 people instead of the inflated 165,000 people put forward by the Polisario and Algeria in an attempt to sell the idea of the existence of a “Sahraoui People” with a “republic” in exile.
Carrying out a head-count of the population held in Tindouf will enable international aid agencies to assess the needs of the population and will also pave the way for the camps dwellers to obtain the refugee status, which will grant them the right to return to their homeland Morocco or at least the right to freely choose their country of asylum. Such options that Algeria and the Polisario dread the most as they continue to trade in the suffering of Sahraouis living in abject conditions.