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Date of posting : July 11, 2016

EU exacts census of Tindouf populations to adjust aid to their number

The European Commission (EC) has finally decided to demand that the beneficiaries of humanitarian aid in the Tindouf camps in Algeria are officially identified and that the vulnerability criteria are determined.

Answering a question by a Member of the European Parliament on the EC proposal to reduce humanitarian aid for the Sahrawis sequestrated in Tindouf, the European Commissioner for humanitarian aid, Christos Stylianides, said the European Union (EU) cannot continue to provide aid without a formal evaluation of the vulnerability of the beneficiaries.

The general distribution of aid without any vulnerability criterion cannot last forever, said the commissioner. “As in any crisis, the most vulnerable refugees must be identified by an official evaluation,” he stressed.

In 2015, the EU “adjusted” its contribution for these populations, said the Commissioner, adding that since 1993, the EU’s aid to the Tindouf camps populations totaled €222 million.

The European Commission’s answer underlines the need to organize a census in the Tindouf camps. The international community has repeatedly called for the organization of such a census but each time the demands are turned down by Algeria.

The European Parliament launched, in 2013, an emergency call for the organization of a population census in Tindouf. The United Nations and the UNHCR had made similar requests.

The moves of the European Parliament and the EC came following the report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) that had revealed, with documented evidence, the involvement of Polisario executives and Algerian officials in the embezzlement of European aid.

The European Commission’s demand for a census of the Tindouf Populations also came in response to requests made in this regard by MEPs from various political trends. The MEPs also want to know the measures taken to stop the diversions of European aid and clarifications about the illegal 5% custom duties that Algeria imposed on the assistance destined to the Tindouf camps.

It seems that the Commission has finally heeded the MEPs’ requests. The question now is whether European institutions will exert enough pressure on Algeria and force it to open the Tindouf camps to census teams.