Mauritania Seizes Aid Supposedly Embezzled by Polisario and Algeria

Written by | Thursday, March 9th, 2017

Moroccan daily Al Massae reported a new attempt to embezzle humanitarian aid to northeastern Mauritania by the Polisario separatists. The daily reported that large amounts of foodstuff and medicines were seized. The humanitarian aid was coming from Tindouf in southwestern Algeria and was diverted despite the disapproval of the international community. The aid was sent to the people held in dire living conditions in the Polisario-run refugee camps. The embezzlement comes shortly after the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva denounced at its 34th session the seizure of basic commodities such as milk for children and vaccines.

The EU’s anti-fraud office (OLAF) disclosed in 2015 a report blaming the Polisario and Algeria for diverting aid and corrupting humanitarian efforts. The OLAF reports on “well-organized, years-long” embezzlement by the Polisario Front of humanitarian aid meant for Sahrawi people held in the camps of Tindouf in Algeria. The OLAF’s report further says that aid theft “begins in the Algerian port of Oran, where the sorting between ‘what should arrive and what can be diverted’ takes place.”

In response to the OLAF’s report, the European Commission informed that it would cut its aid accordingly with the estimated number of 90,000 people instead of reported 165,000 by the Polisario in an attempt to market the idea of the existence of “Sahrawi people” with a “republic” in exile.  There is an urgent need to undertake a census of the Tindouf camps to determine the actual size of the humanitarian needs based on the actual size of the population. The report explains that ”one of the reasons that made these diversions possible is the overestimation of the number of refugees and therefore aid provided.”

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