Polisario: European Union Report on Aid Diversions Creates a Stir

tttindoofVoices started rising at the European Parliament calling to shed light on the massive misappropriations of the EU’s humanitarian aid to the Tindouf camps in Algeria, following the publication by the EU Bulletin of a report incriminating Algerian and Polisario leaders in the diversions.

For the Socialist MEP Hugues Bayet, it is incomprehensible that the report of OLAF, the European Anti-Fraud Office, has been deliberately kept secret since 2007. The investigations conducted by OLAF for four years were compiled in a report that was posted online on February 3. The document evidences the existence of diversions of the international aid on a large-scale and states that the trafficking by a structured network led by Polisario leaders and their Algerian accomplices has lasted for several years.

Much of the humanitarian aid is diverted as soon as shipments arrive in the port of Oran, says the 20-page report. Instead of being donated to the helpless Sahrawi population surviving under the Stalinist control of the Polisario and the Algerian military intelligence services (DRS),the assistance goods are sold in markets in Algeria, Mauritania and Mali, according to OLAF investigation teams.

One of the causes of such large-scale diversion is “the overestimation of the number of refugees.” The EU humanitarian aid is provided on the basis of figures established by Algerian authorities that put the number of refugees at 155,000. However, the figures could not be verified as “neither Algeria nor the Polisario Front agreed that a census of the camps populations be conducted.”

On the basis of “satellite photographs and a scientific evaluation,” OLAF considers, for its part, that the number stands at 91,000.

The European survey confirms other international NGOs’ embezzlement charges against the Polisario. One of these organizations is the American NGO Teach the Children International. The humanitarian organization stopped its aid to the Tindouf camps in 2005, after it discovered that an assistance of over $ 5 million ended in the pockets of some Polisario leaders and their Algerian accomplices.

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