Brussels, 25 July 2020 (SPS) – The allegations of misusing the humanitarian aid of the European Union (EU) to the Sahrawi refugees are “unfounded,” and they only divert the international opinion from the issue of the occupation of Western Sahara and the right of the Sahrawi people to self-determination, said Algeria’s ambassador to Brussels Amar Belani.
In a clarification to The Brussels Times newspaper about the allegations circulated by the nationalist Euro-deputy Dominique Bilde, on the misuse of the humanitarian aid, Belani noted that these accusations “only divert the attention from the illegal occupation of Western Sahara and the Sahrawi people’s legitimate right to self-determination.”
While referring to the responses given by the most senior officials of EU, the ambassador pointed out the statement of the current European Commissioner for Crisis Management Januz Lenarcic who confirmed in early July the rigorous control of the aid in the Sahrawi refugee camps.
“EU implemented very strong follow-up and control measures to the extent that some of its partners reproached it for making the work difficult with its services,” said Lenarcic before the EU Development Commission.
Contrary to what has been said by the deputy Bilde on the “overestimated” number of refugees, the ambassador said that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) published, in March 2018, a report in which the population of the camps of the Sahrawi refugees of Tindouf was estimated at 173,600, i.e. an increase of about 40% compared to the estimates of 2007.
On 31 December 2017, “these figures are even higher than those on which UNHCR, EU and the World Food Programme (WFP) planned their humanitarian aid operations,” he said.
UNHCR underlined then the importance of its report as it represented the “most comprehensive analysis that has never been carried out since 2007 on the issue,” especially as its conclusions are the outcome of a multi-sectoral expert mission comprising UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP and several NGOs.
As indicated clearly by the report in question, the mission’s team had full access to the sites and demanded information, that it listed independently.
In this regard, WFP adopted the new estimate of the number of the Sahrawi refugees in its report of August 2018 on “the assessment of the Sahrawi refugees’ food safety.” (SPS)