Majority of people in Polisario-run Tindouf camps are not even Sahrawis, a fugitive says

A man who managed to escape the siege imposed on thousands of people in Tindouf has confirmed the information according to which the Polisario and its mentor Algeria were gathering people who were not Sahraouis in the Tindouf camps in order to inflate numbers and perpetuate the chimera of a Sahraoui people seeking for a separatist state in southern Morocco.

The Algerian regime has relegated a part of its territory in Tindouf area to the Polisario militias where they held hostage thousands of people trading in their sufferings and preventing many from returning to their homeland Morocco while using them politically for a failed separatist plot.

The fugitive, Hamada El Bihi, who run away from the yoke of the separatist militia after 40 years in the camps, estimates the number of Sahraoui people there at 20%, a shocking reality that makes Algeria and Polisario insist on a media blackout in the camp.

The UN refugee agency has been denied access to take a head count of the camps dwellers because of this reality.

“Most of the population in the camps are either Touaregs, or nationals of neighboring countries such as Mauritania, Mali, Niger and Chad,” El Bihi told Moroccan news agency MAP.

The Polisario has for long engaged in inflating numbers of the camps population in order to receive more aid in which its officials, in connivance with corrupt Algerian officials, can embezzle and sell in Sahel markets.

El Bihi, who chairs the Saharan league for democracy and human rights, deplored the brain washing endured by the Sahraouis in Tindouf and drew a contrast with the well-being of Sahraouis in Morocco.

From humanitarian aid embezzlement by the Polisario officials to slavery and forced disappearances in the Tinfoud camps, Algeria has abdicated its responsibilities and forsaken a civilian population to the mercy of a separatist militia.

Algeria’s obstinacy to refuse allow a head-count of the population of the Polisario-run camps prompted the EU to reduce aid sent to these camps in a bid to curb humanitarian aid diversion.

The decision was taken following a report by the EU anti-fraud office (OLAF) denouncing the embezzlement of humanitarian aid by the Polisario leadership and Algerian officials.

Therefore, the European Commission decided to cut aid commensurately with the estimated number of 90,000 people instead of the inflated 165,000 people put forward by the Polisario and Algeria in an attempt to sell the idea of the existence of a “Sahraoui People” with a “republic” in exile.

Carrying out a head-count of the population held in Tindouf will enable international aid agencies to assess the needs of the population and will also pave the way for the camps dwellers to obtain the refugee status. This status will grant them the right to return to their homeland Morocco or at least the right to freely choose their country of asylum, options that Algeria and the Polisario dread the most as they continue to trade in the suffering of Sahraouis living in abject conditions.

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