Rabat – Omar Kadiri, a member of Morocco’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations, has stated that Algeria’s maneuvers to obscure its embezzlement of humanitarian aid sent to Tindouf camps have failed.
Speaking at the UN General Assembly Third Committee, Kadiri underlined that Algeria is “proven guilty and responsible” for involvement in the embezzlement of humanitarian aid sent to the population held in the Polisario-run camps.
“Unfortunately for Algeria, the international community is not fooled,” he said last Thursday in a meeting on the situation of refugees in the world.
The Moroccan diplomat read before the Third Committee a report by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) that “confirms, with supporting evidence, the organized, fraudulent, systematic, and large-scale diversion of humanitarian aid intended for the Tindouf camps.”
The report conducted between 2003 and 2007 documents “well-organized, years-long” embezzlement by the Polisario Front of humanitarian aid designated for Sahrawi refugees in the Polisario-run camps in Tindouf, offering further evidence to previous reports by the World Food Program and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
“The dishonest tricks of Algeria and the Polisario are exposed one after the other. Algeria can not continue to exploit these poor populations and get rich at their own expense,” Kadriri said.
Further, Algeria has also imposed a VAT on the aid sent by international donors to the Tindouf camps, leading the EU to reduce aid sent to these camps.
Algeria’s UN representative tried in vain to deny the embezzlement of aid. The Moroccan diplomat responded saying that not only do Algeria and Polisario “taking advantage of the misery of these people, but also of the generosity of the donors.”
This statement was proven by the OLAF report, which says that eyewitnesses have long reported that the Polisario regularly diverts food meant for the refugees and sells it in the black market.
The report states that one of the reasons that made these diversions possible is the overestimation of the number of refugees and therefore aid provided.
The EU has provided aid to Tindouf since 1975, based on Algerian estimates of a population of 150,000 in 2005, while the OLAF drastically reduced the estimated population to 90,000.
Following the findings of the report, the European Commission cut the aid to the estimated number of 90,000 people instead of the the number put forward by Algeria and Polisario.
“These are the real reasons behind Algeria’s continuing opposition to the census and registration of these populations,” affirmed the diplomat, saying that a headcount would enable aid agencies to determine the actual needs of the people.