Military enrolment of children, disastrous situation in Tindouf Camps denounced in New York

The military recruitment by the polisario armed separatist group of children in the Tindouf camps in southwestern Algeria was strongly denounced during the ordinary session of the UN Committee of 24, taking place June 11 – 21 in New York.

“The recruitment of children in the Tindouf camps is one aspect of the systematic and repeated violations of human rights perpetrated on Algerian soil by the separatist movement,” underlined Aabidine El Ouali, president of the African Forum for Research Studies in Human Rights.

The involvement of children in armed conflicts by the polisario is a flagrant violation of international law and the Paris principles, he said, noting that a number of non-governmental organizations and media have sounded the alarm against these practices which trample on the most basic rights of children.

At a young age, these children are subjected to indoctrination in military centers and exposed to the harmful ideology of hatred and violence, he denounced, stressing that it is time for the international community to take action to put an end to these criminal practices and hold accountable the parties involved in these despicable acts.

Algeria is the main party responsible for these violations perpetrated on its territory by a separatist group that it shelters, finances and arms, he argued, stressing that the Tindouf camps constitute the epicenter of child soldiers. Such abuses cannot be tolerated, he said.

El Ouali also called for allowing the United Nations High Commission for Refugees to carry out the registration and census of the populations of the Tindouf camps.

Khadija Ezaoui, a native of Laâyoune, also denounced the blatant human rights violations in the polisario-controlled camps, saying “Tindouf camps have become a brutal symbol of human suffering, where abuse, repression, extreme poverty and malnutrition are the norm rather than the exception.”

She noted that the humanitarian aid intended for the sequestered population in these camps is diverted to be sold on the markets of neighboring countries rather than being channeled to those who need it most, adding that the polisario leaders engage in the systematic embezzlement of this aid with the active complicity of Algeria.

She cited the latest revelations from the World Food Programme (WFP) in its January 2023 report entitled “Summary report on the evaluation of the provisional strategic plan for Algeria (2019-2022)” and the 2015 report from the European Anti-Fraud Office.

“The evidence provided by the WFP leaves no room for doubt, clearly establishing the embezzlement of essential foodstuffs, including cookies intended for children as part of humanitarian aid”, she denounced, adding that these foodstuffs are sold on local markets in Tindouf, outside the camps and in neighboring countries.

Ezaoui pointed out that the WFP had highlighted the obstruction of the access of UN specialized agencies to Tindouf camps and the bias inherent in the distribution of humanitarian aid orchestrated by the polisario.

“This shocking situation is due to the fact that Algeria did not allow the UNHCR to register the population held hostage in Tindouf camps, in accordance with its mandate and the resolutions of the UN Security Council,” she said, noting that the sequestered population of these camps continue to live in a “zone of total anarchy”, marked by multiple human rights violations, at a time when Algeria has delegated its authority over the camps to the polisario.

On this matter, she pointed out that the UN Human Rights Committee had repeatedly expressed its serious concerns about this illegal delegation of powers, adding that these same concerns had been echoed by the UN Secretary-General in his report to the Security Council.

Ezaoui also condemned the abuses and exactions endured by the population sequestered in the Tindouf camps when they claim their legitimate rights.

“When the sequestered population dare to raise their voices against the exactions perpetrated by Algeria and the polisario, their legitimate demands are met with brutality and repression,” she said, citing the recent case of three individuals who were victim of arbitrary detention and torture at the hands of the “polisario”.

She also pointed out that the same fate applies to women who are subjected to various forms of violence by Algeria and its polisario puppet, stressing that this humanitarian catastrophe calls for an immediate international response.

To her, the only solution to this disastrous situation is the safe and dignified return of the population sequestered in Tindouf camps, through the implementation of the Morocco-proposed autonomy plan for the Sahara.


About Geraldine Boechat 2757 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia