UN-Sahara: Rabat exacts a census of Sahrawis in Tindouf

onu-sahara1Morocco is planning to seize the opportunity of the new meeting of the UN Security Council on Western Sahara to call for more pressure on Algeria so that it allows the relevant bodies conduct a census of the populations in the Tindouf camps.

Morocco has the right to require such a census as the stakeholder most affected by the territorial dispute over Western Sahara, commented a Western diplomat accredited to the UN in New York.

The census, to which Algeria and the Polisario are fiercely opposed, would put an end to the embezzlement of humanitarian assistance and allow Moroccan authorities to know the exact number of refugees in the Tindouf camps, their origin, age, gender and tribal affiliation, said the diplomat.

The claim is all the more legitimate as Morocco, which proposed to grant Western Sahara a large autonomy as a solution to the territorial conflict opposing it to its Algerian neighbor, needs to be prepared, in case the autonomy solution is accepted, to host the thousands of Sahrawis who would return to their native country, explained the diplomat,

He deemed that the operation to accommodate almost 90,000 people, as estimated by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR,) is delicate and very complex. Once back home, the refugees will need adequate housing, schools to educate their children, health services in addition to jobs so that their integration within the local population unfolds smoothly.

However, confusion about the actual size of the camps population serves the interests of some Algerian officials and brass, senior executives of the Polisario and many Sahrawi notables who built up huge fortunes through the exploitation of the windfall of international humanitarian aid, intended for Tindouf refugees.

For all these reasons Morocco insists that a transparent census, long claimed by international NGOs, be organized the soonest possible.

The census issue has, for the first time, been raised by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, in the recommendations he made in his 2015 report to the Security Council on Western Sahara.

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