According to reliable sources cited by some media outlets, a representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Tindouf has informed Mr. Collin Stewart, Head of the MINURSO, about a dangerous spike of Covid-19 cases in the Tindouf camps, stressing that four members of his team tested positive with the contagious virus.
Thus, as a precautionary measure, the UNHCR members have decided to work remotely to avoid further contaminations.
The issue of the pandemic in the Tindouf camps had been brought up at the European parliament as early as April 2020 by Belgian MEP Frédérique Ries who signaled that health conditions are deplorable and that the basic equipment needed to treat those contaminated by the virus is lacking.
Sahrawis returning from Mauritania are being confined in isolation rooms under deplorable conditions, the MEP had said, underlining that responsibility for the protection of the Sahrawi populations in this emergency situation rests with the host country, Algeria.
The Tindouf camps, which depend totally on Algeria, host tens of thousands of sequestered Sahrawi Moroccans who are living in lamentable conditions due to lack of health infrastructure, medicines and food, while Algeria, itself, is struggling to cope with the pandemic and is dramatically lagging behind in vaccination campaign compared with neighboring countries.
Morocco, which is taking the lead in Africa, has so far vaccinated 8.7 million people, including 4.1 million who received their second shot, while Algeria has inoculated only 75,000 people out of a 40 million population.