Situation of Saharawi refugees: forgotten crisis by EU

Brussels, 9 April 2017 (SPS) - According to the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Service (ECHO), total EU funding for humanitarian aid to Sahrawi refugees was only € 9 million in 2016, compared to € 10 million in the past.

However, the European Commission has described the situation of these refugees as a "forgotten crisis" because of the limited funds allocated to them by the international community.

In 2016, the situation of the Saharawi refugees continues to be regarded as a serious forgotten crisis, affirmed European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid Christos Stylianides, in his response to MEP Enrique Guerrero Salom.

Sahrawi refugees, who live in 5 different camps in the Tindouf region, have limited access to external resources and international aid remains essential to their survival. They depend largely on international aid in all domains and the food aid is one of the most crucial components.

The long-term dependence of Sahrawi refugees on humanitarian aid, the forgotten aspect of this crisis and the fatigue of donors often result in repeated breaks in supplies, leading to an unstable humanitarian situation.

In this context, the member of European Parliament urged the European Commission to explain its turnaround and the reasons why it did not pay any more attention to this humanitarian crisis of the Saharawi refugees.

"Could the Commission explain why, while many elemnts have remained unchanged, the Sahrawi refugee crisis went from a serious crisis forgotten in 2011 to the only one of its kind in 2014, then declassed at the seventh position on the list of forgotten crises in 2016?" he asked.

Another important factor, namely the safety of humanitarian teams, concerned MEP Salom who urged the European executive to commit to continue, in the next three years, the funding of the security system put in place in 2012, jointly by the Spanish Agency of International Cooperation for the Development and the ECHO service of the Commission.

The EU presents itself as one of the main donors of humanitarian aid to the Sahrawis. Between 1993 and 2016, the European Commission allocated € 222 million in humanitarian aid to this crisis, specified ECHO.

Of the € 9 million invested by the European Commission in 2016 in improving the living conditions of Saharawi refugees, food aid remains an important component of this funding: more than € 5 million have been allocated to the United Nations World Food Program and Oxfam to ensure the food supply of these refugees. (SPS)

062/090/TRA