The International Observatory for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (IOPDHR) has drawn a bleak picture of the situation of the sequestered populations in the camps of Tindouf (southeast Algeria), in a report presented Friday in Geneva.
In the absence of a legislative framework on asylum in accordance with international agreements, the situation of the populations in the Tindouf camps has not evolved, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees bears full responsibility for this situation in the absence of the involvement of the host country, said the post-pandemic report on the situation of human rights in the camps.
The president of the International Center for Diplomacy, Karima Ghanem noted, in this regard, that for nearly five decades, Tindouf camps (southwestern Algeria) live in a legal anarchy unprecedented in the history of refugee camps, where thousands of Sahrawis live in inhumane conditions in tents or mud houses and depend mainly on international humanitarian aid, while Polisario manages the camps in place of the host country, contrary to the rules of international law and away from the eyes of the international community.
Since international monitoring operations are sporadic or partialthey cannot fully reveal this systematic pattern of serious human rights violations against the camp population, she said.
So far, there has been no population census despite international demands, and the Algerian state does not really recognize the population as refugees, Ghanem noted, noting that the UNHCR is unable to communicate directly with those sequestered in military-style camps, in clear violation of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
The president of the International Center for Diplomacy stressed the legal, political and moral responsibility of Algeria regarding the human rights situation, which cannot be evaded by delegating power entirely to the Polisario to repress the sequestered populations, who have no means of recourse in the face of multiple abuses.
The president of the Convergence for the Dialogue of Cultures, Zouhair El Youbi, highlighted the worsening of the humanitarian and human rights situation in the camps of Tindouf, revealed in several shocking testimonies that do not reach the international community, because of the omerta imposed on the population.
The violation by Polisario of the ceasefire agreement and the return to arms pave the way for a serial escalation of child recruitment and increased pressure on fundamental rights and freedoms, warned Mr. El Youbi, referring to the dramatic lack of medicines for minor illnesses, which are sold on the black market in the same way as foodstuffs that end up on Algerian markets.
In the absence of a population census, it is easy to manipulate figures and indicators, he continued, stressing that the Algerian regime perpetuates the logic of privileges instead of rights, which leads to the formation of a junta composed of Polisario leaders and their subordinates, separated from the general population.
The presentation of the report, which took place in hybrid mode, was marked by testimonies of human rights activists, who shared the human rights situation in the camps.
Thus, Hamada El Behi, a human rights activist who spent 40 years of suffering in the camps before returning to Morocco, stressed the need to push the international community to adopt concrete and real solutions to end the tragedy of the population, which has become a business for Algeria, questioning the fact that this country forces donors to buy aid for the camps on its markets.
Activist Ali Salem Al Souaih raised the issue of serious human rights violations that have occurred since the inception of Polisario, calling for a coalition to address the international community to uncover the mass graves of victims of the separatist movement, including his father, who was killed at the hands of militias.
During her presentation of the report, Aicha Duihi, president of the IOPDHR noted that the monitoring process has been carried out on three axes: civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights, as well as rights that mainly concern women and children.
Algeria also bears responsibility for all internationally illegal acts and actions committed on its soil by Polisario, including its renunciation of the 1991 international ceasefire agreement and its declaration of return to arms, it said, adding that the transfer by the state of its political, military, judicial and administrative powers, including the protection of human rights, raises many concerns in the international community.