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UN urged to send international committees to monitor human rights in Tindouf camps in Algeria

By North Africa Post

June 26, 2024

Credits @FFHR.CZ

Human rights activists have launched an urgent appeal on the United Nations to lift the blockade on the Tindouf camps in southwestern Algeria and allow access to the camps, which are witnessing an unprecedented deterioration of human rights conditions, as reported by several international organizations.

On the sidelines of the 56th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the International Observatory for Peace, Democracy and Human Rights (IOPDHR-GENEVA-NGO) on Monday sent a document with an urgent appeal to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi, and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, Hespress news outlet reported.

The document called for sending technical committees to the Tindouf camps to monitor the serious violations and abuses taking place there and the state of renewed violence and appalling insecurity, especially after the Polisario Front announced a return to arms.

The Observatory stressed the need for Algeria to assume “its international responsibilities as a host country, by ensuring decent and safe living conditions for the refugees in the Tindouf camps and recognizing their refugee status with all the rights that this entails.”

The appeal stressed the need to ensure access of UN special procedures and international organizations to the Tindouf camps to independently and transparently assess the humanitarian situation and the needs of the refugees, strengthen the monitoring and transparency of humanitarian operations in the Tindouf camps, ensure that aid effectively reaches the refugees without diversion or discrimination, and promote durable solutions and initiatives for resettlement, voluntary return, or local integration to ensure dignity and a stable future for the refugees.

“For nearly five decades, the inhabitants of these camps have been living in extremely precarious conditions, relying almost entirely on humanitarian aid to meet their basic needs, away from the watchful eyes of regional, continental, and international mechanisms, and human rights organizations,” the document said.

The letter addressed to the UN bodies held Algeria responsible for the abnormal situation in the Tindouf camps it hosts, and called for the urgent opening of these camps to international monitoring and the dispatch of fact-finding committees.

The document noted that for more than four decades, the inhabitants of these camps have been living almost isolated from the world, away from the watchful eyes of regional, continental and international mechanisms and organizations working in the field of human rights.

“Classifying the Tindouf camps as refugee camps remains difficult in many ways, and the issue is not resolved over time,” according to the Geneva-based NGO, which emphasized that these camps “have never been subject to a census, despite the UNHCR’s repeated request to the host country, despite relevant Security Council resolutions and despite repeated requests to register refugees in the Tindouf camps.”

Faced with this situation, the Algerian state still refuses to recognize the refugee status of the inhabitants of the Tindouf camps and apply the rights deriving from it, in accordance with the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees, both of which have been ratified by Algeria.

According to the letter, Algeria is also responsible for all internationally illegal acts and behaviors on its territory, including the Polisario’s repudiation of the 1991 UN ceasefire agreement and its declaration of a return to arms.

The document warned of the manipulation of aid distribution as the Polisario Front, in cooperation with the Algerian authorities, controls the distribution of these foodstuffs, “making them available to the population according to their proximity to the leadership.”

Over the years, this aid has been “the subject of significant diversion by the Polisario Front.

This has led to a shortage of basic foodstuffs and has severely affected the health of the camp residents, causing widespread malnutrition.”

This abnormal situation, which escapes monitoring, “has prompted the Polisario to continue to commit serious violations against the camp residents by strengthening its security grip on the area, relieving it of any legal obligation to protect people in the Tindouf camps, and obtaining full authorization from the Algerian government since 1975 to do so.”

According to the report sent to the UN bodies, in many cases, Algerian security services are placed at the service of the Polisario Front “to abuse, torture, and subject individuals to degrading treatment in detention centers outside the control of the Algerian judiciary and the supervision of international mechanisms and organizations.”


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