Moroccan Party Calls for Investigation Into Polisario Aid Embezzlement

Moroccan Party Calls for Investigation Into Polisario AidMoroccan Party Calls for Investigation Into Polisario Aid Embezzlement Embezzlement

Rabat – Morocco’s Al Istiqlal (Independence) Party has addressed a letter to the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, requesting he intervene to protect Sahrawis from the Polisario Front and its aid embezzlement.

With the alleged help of Algerian army officers, the Polisario Front embezzles aid directed to Sahrawi refugees in the Tindouf camps, the Moroccan party said in the letter to Sassoli.

The Moroccan political party cited several reports confirming Polisario’s involvement in diverting funds intended for Sahrawis, whose number is estimated at 90,000.

Several reports, including the UN documents on the situation of Western Sahara, spoke about the dire conditions Sahrawis in the camps due to malnutrition.

Malnutrition problems are a direct cause of health conditions that are prevalent in the camps, including anemia among children, girls, and pregnant women.

The Al Istiqlal party cited a report from the European Anti-Fraud Office, which dates back to 2015 and exposed the Polisario Front’s illegal aid diversion.

“These revelations only confirm a pattern of aid embezzlement by Polisario, with help from Algeria reported by several sources, in the EU and elsewhere, at least over the past two decades,” the letter continued.

Al Istiqlal also cited reports about the alleged selling of humanitarian aid products directed to Sahrawis in the black market. Pro-Polisario news outlet Futuro Sahara has reported over the past few years on the discovery of aid products at grocery stores in Algeria.

“As members of parliament, we are troubled by these illegal practices,” the letter stressed. 

“Humanitarian aid is destined for a population that lives in dire conditions in the Tindouf Camps, under severe control from the Polisario Front and the Algerian Army.”

Read also: Morocco Stresses Algeria’s Role in Tindouf Aid Diversion to UNHCR

Al Istiqlal said the World Food Programme provides enough rations to feed 134,000 people daily in the Tindouf camps, but “reports show the number of refugees should not go beyond 60 or 70 thousand.”

The party also referenced Algeria’s refusal to allow a census of the camp’s population. By over-reporting the number of refugees in the camps, Polisario can request and embezzle more aid. 

Morocco has long called for the UNHCR to carry out a census to reduce the risks of fraud and embezzlement.

During its participation in a UNHCR committee meeting in July, a Moroccan delegation said that Algeria bears full responsibility for the diversion of humanitarian aid in the camps by blocking a census.

Deputy permanent representative at Morocco’s diplomatic mission in Geneva, Abdellah Boutadghart, reiterated Morocco’s concern during the 78th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Executive Committee of the High Commissioner’s Programme of the UNHCR on July 8.

“The host country is complicit in this fraud since it imposes taxes on this aid of up to 10%, in contradiction with humanitarian norms and practices,” he said.

Like Boutadghart, Morocco’s Al Istiqlal Party called on Algeria to allow an independent investigation of the alleged aid embezzlement and fraud and to “take the necessary steps to return the stolen aid and punish the culprits.”