The tragedy of children turned into soldiers by the separatist militia of the “polisario” with the blessing and support of the host country, Algeria, in the camps of Tindouf was vigorously denounced, this week, before the 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly in New York.
Algeria, the host country of the Tindouf camps, continues to turn a deaf ear to the calls of the international community to put an end to the recruitment and indoctrination of children, which are carried out with impunity by the armed separatist militia of the “polisario”, said Thursday in New York, Giulia Pace, member of the NGO “IL CENACOLO”.
The indoctrination and recruitment of children by the armed militias of the “polisario” constitute a crime against humanity, and a denial of the fundamental rights of children recruited, as well as a flagrant violation of the resolutions adopted by the Security Council on the matter,” said Pace before the 4th Committee of the UN General Assembly.
For her, “the armed separatist group is stubbornly carrying out a premeditated process of recruitment of children, forcibly removing them from their families and communities, and depriving them of their childhood, education, health care, as well as the opportunity to grow up in a safe and supportive environment”.
She noted that the Tindouf camps in southwestern Algeria are “the epicenter” of child soldiers, constituting one of the largest concentrations of military recruitment of children in Africa, noting that the host country and the “polisario” are guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. She cited a recent report of the European Parliament that children aged 12 to 13 years are subjected to military training in the camps of Tindouf.
Sahrawi children in the Tindouf camps are not receiving a good education that allows them to think critically, but rather forced into an allegiance to the doctrine of “polisario” against their best interests,” the petitioner said, stressing that the host country, Algeria, is doubly responsible for what happens on its territory.
Algeria has accepted the presence of armed militias of the “polisario” on its territory while providing them with financial and military support to continue to illegally run militarized camps, she explained, adding that the host country is also responsible for the crimes committed by these separatist militias to which it has ceded power in defiance of its international obligations.
The president of the Christian Democratic Women International, Anna Maria Stame, also spoke out against the methods used by the separatist movement in southwestern Algeria to recruit children and subject them to training “that even adults cannot stand”.
“After a simple search on the Internet, I personally discovered the horror suffered by these children who struggle to handle weapons larger and heavier than their size, facing ruthless instructors who find pleasure in making them suffer, as if they were real adult soldiers,” she said, noting that this scandal has dominated media headlines for weeks.
She noted that this case was brought before several international organizations, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva. “This appeal has not deterred the polisario militias who have revealed their cynical and despicable face,” she deplored.
Disregarding appeals and protests from all sides, the separatists “have continued to abuse these child soldiers in their training camps. Worse, they do not hesitate to expose them in front of their foreign guests,” in defiance of international law and the rights of the child, Stame said.
“These children are supposed to be protected by a whole arsenal of laws and international law binding on States, including the UN Charter, the Charter of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention and the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” she noted, adding that “neither this arsenal of binding laws, nor a minimum of ethics that every human being is supposed to be endowed with, have been able to awaken the dead conscience of the criminals who rule in the Algerian camps of Tindouf”.
“In addition to a painful military training, these children are subjected to an ideological indoctrination based on radicalization, glorification of violence, hatred of the West and especially Morocco,” denounced the petitioner, stressing that the criminals of the polisario and their Algerian sponsors take advantage of the innocence of these children to engulf them in a world of evil and destructive ideas.
She added that “the Polisario leaders have chosen to recruit children for various reasons, it seems: they cost much less and are manageable enough to turn them into robots to kill and machines to spread violence and hatred”.
In this context, she called on the international community to protect these children and help them return to their families in the Motherland, Morocco.
“The voice of the international community is essential to reveal this ordeal to the world and bring its executioners before the International Criminal Court as war criminals,” she insisted, believing that only an international campaign is likely to end the crimes of the armed separatist movement in the Tindouf camps.
Another petitioner, Elizabeth Dail, New Life, deplored a decline in educational opportunities in the Tindouf camps over recent years, saying that children in the Tindouf camps should be educated in an environment not controlled by the separatist group and completely away from the unsafe conditions in which they now live.
Sahrawi people living in the Tindouf camps must learn a spirit of solidarity and compassion between them and those they have been taught to hate, she added.
It is time to implement the Moroccan autonomy plan as it is the best solution for the future of the children in the camp, stressed Mrs. Elizabeth, affirming that this plan would unite the children with friends, aunts, uncles and cousins in the Sahara provinces.
Mrs. Nancy Huff, Teach the Children International, voiced concern about humanitarian aid theft by the polisario militias, citing in this regard the report by the European Anti-Fraud Office.
The report exposes the involvement of the Polisario leaders in the embezzlement of humanitarian aid destined for Tindouf inhabitants but found on sale at the black market.
The United Nations has not condemned the theft or blacklisted any members of the Polisario, whose leaders live a luxurious life and own villas in several European and Latin American countries, underlined Mrs. Nancy.