01/26/2015 (press release: media1press) // Morocco
According to a report of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), a large part of the European Union’s humanitarian assistance destined to the Polisario Tindouf camps has never reached the intended beneficiaries.
Recently published, the OLAF report, based on the results of a survey conducted since 2003, was drafted in 2007 and not released to the public for unknown reasons.
The report slams Algeria and the Polsario which have been embezzling humanitarian aid for decades to the detriment of the Sahrawi refugees living in the Polisario-controlled Tindouf camps.
The report also notes that organized embezzlement starts in the Algerian port of Oran where a large part of humanitarian aid is diverted away.
The investigation conducted by OLAF made other revelations such as the fact that “prisoners, either POWs or civilian inmates, are forced to handle the assistance and construct buildings financed by international aid,” and that good quality foods initially destined to the camps “are replaced by lower quality goods” by the embezzlers who resold them either in Algeria or in neighboring countries.
In response to this report, Vice-President of the European Commission for Budget and Human Resources Kristalina Georgieva said that the EU took a series of measures to curb the massive embezzlement of humanitarian aid sent to the population in the Polisario-run camps of Tindouf in south-western Algeria.
“On the basis of the recommendations put forward by OLAF, the European Commission took a set of measures to reduce the risk of these fraudulent practices,” said Georgieva.
These measures include strengthening the control instruments used by European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and its international partners and promoting transparency at all the level of logistics and distribution, she added.
In light of the OLAF report, the Commission has also proceeded to conduct a meticulous assessment of the needs of the population in specific areas relating, among other things, to health, water, food.
With a view to curbing the diversion of aid, the EU official went on to say, the European assistance will be limited to goods with short-term expiry dates which makes them less likely to be embezzled given the challenges they pose in terms of stockage and transportation.
For his part, Euro-deputy Gilles Pargneaux who is a member of the Budget control committee at the European Parliament drew attention to the fact that: ”We should be aware that the overestimation of population in the camps of Tindouf helped to set up this European food aid embezzlement and resale system”.
The EU’s financial support to the Tindouf camps, which started in 1975 was based on Algerian authorities’ estimates of the camps inhabitants of 155.000 people.
The figure could never be checked because neither Algeria nor the Polisario Front have ever agreed to conduct a census of the population of the camps.
Social Media Tags:European Anti-Fraud, OLAF, Polisario Tindouf camps, humanitarian assistance, Sahrawi refugees, Kristalina Georgieva, European Commission, Algeria
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