Spanish ‘El Mundo’ Underlines ‘Massive Fraud’ in EU’s Aid to Tindouf Camps

The European Union’s aid to populations in the Polisario-controlled Tindouf camps (southwestern Algeria) is “massively defrauded” by the Polisario leaders and Algeria, writes Spanish paper “El Mundo,” citing a report by the EU’s anti-fraud office (OLAF).

Embezzlement was revealed by the EU’s office in a 250-page report, which shows how the humanitarian aid extended by the EU, between 2003 and 2007, ended in markets in Algeria, Mauritania and Mali, the paper notes on its website.

The story, signed by Ignacio Cembrero, points that the EU’s office started investigating in 2003 after one of its experts who was travelling to Mali found dairy products, bearing the label of the European commission’s humanitarian aid agency, being sold in Malian markets.

For OLAF, fraud is made possible by the overestimation of the Tindouf camps, says the paper which also recalls that the UNHCR does not have an updated census of this populations because of the “Polisario refusal for 39 years to allow a census”.

Since 1975, the EU has been extending financial aid to the Camps populations on the basis of Algerian estimations of 155,000 persons, notes the Spanish mass-circulation daily, which also deplores the refusal of Polisario representative in Europe to take phone calls from El Mundo.

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.