Sahara: Hilale decries Algeria’s manipulation of its mandate in the Security Council

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Morocco’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Omar Hilale, sent a letter on Friday to the President and members of the UN Security Council in which he decried Algeria’s exploitation of its mandate in Council to advance its biased position on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara.

“The Kingdom of Morocco regrets that the briefing organized by the Security Council on May 30, 2024, on the situation of refugees and displaced persons in the world, was exploited by the ambassador, permanent representative of Algeria, Amar Bendjama, in his capacity as a non-permanent member of the Council, to advance the biased position of his country on the question of the Moroccan Sahara, as well as on the disastrous situation, which unfortunately characterizes the daily life of the populations sequestered in the Tindouf camps, in Algeria”, underlined Mr. Hilale in this letter.

He noted that instead of addressing the eight humanitarian situations mentioned by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, during his briefing, the Algerian ambassador was the only one among the members of the Council, to focus on the issue of the Moroccan Sahara, although Mr. Grandi did not mention it, adding that the Algerian diplomat distinguished himself, once again, by demonstrating that Algeria is indeed the main stakeholder to this regional dispute, which it created and which it maintains in violation of the rules of good neighborliness and the legal, historical and political foundations of the Moroccanness of the Sahara.

Responding to the untruths conveyed by the Algerian ambassador during this meeting, which was reserved for members of the Security Council only, Ambassador Hilale noted that “Algeria in no way welcomes the populations of the Tindouf camps. On the contrary, it has sequestered them against their will for more than five decades. It uses them in its policy of constant hostility against the territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco.”

He observed that “the Algerian ambassador claims that ‘these populations are awaiting action from the international community, and more particularly this Council, to allow them to voluntarily return to their land’. However, the reality is quite different.” “In fact, Algeria refuses them this right of return to their motherland, Morocco, although guaranteed by international humanitarian law, in particular, the 1951 Convention relating to the status of refugees,” explained Mr. Hilale, emphasizing that Algeria categorically opposes the registration of these populations in flagrant violation of its obligations as a State party to the 1951 Convention and all Security Council resolutions since 2011.

The Moroccan ambassador continued by indicating that Algeria “has been violating, for half a century, the statutory mandate of the High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), by prohibiting it from registering these populations, as it does it in all refugee situations all over the world.”

And to add that Algeria denies the populations sequestered in the Tindouf camps the choice between the three durable solutions that international humanitarian law offers them, in this case, freely consented return, local integration or resettlement in a third country, reporting that in fact, “the populations of the Tindouf camps are prohibited from leaving these camps which are surrounded by several security cordons of the army and Algerian services, in addition to the armed Polisario militias”.

In the same vein, Mr. Hilale stressed that Algeria “unfortunately politicizes international humanitarian law by making the return of the populations of the Tindouf camps, in the Moroccan Sahara, subject to a so-called referendum.” “However, voluntary return, like other durable solutions, is a humanitarian requirement which cannot be conditioned on any other consideration,” he explained.

“The so-called referendum to which the Algerian ambassador refers is well and truly dead and buried by the Security Council and the Secretary General of the United Nations. The Algerian ambassador pretends to be unaware that no Security Council resolution makes the slightest reference to a so-called referendum, and has done so for more than two decades,” recalled the Moroccan diplomat.

He insisted that the one and only solution to this regional dispute remains the Moroccan Autonomy Initiative, within the framework of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Morocco, noting that this Initiative is considered the serious and credible in all Security Council resolutions since 2007.

“The Security Council recommends in all its resolutions, the political, realistic, pragmatic, sustainable and compromise solution,” he further indicated, specifying that in its latest resolution 2703 of October 30, 2023, the Council calls, in particular , Algeria, the main party to this dispute, to take part in the third round table, within the framework of the exclusively UN political process. “What Algiers unfortunately refuses, thus preventing the resumption of this political process.”

“The claim of the Algerian ambassador that + his country spares no effort to meet the needs of Sahrawi refugees + is a pure lie,” declared Mr. Hilale, noting that Algeria “violates the most basic rights of these populations and even deprives them of international humanitarian aid, which is systematically diverted by those responsible for the separatist armed group Polisario and those responsible for the Algerian Red Crescent.”

He noted that these systematic misappropriations have been confirmed, with supporting evidence, by the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) of the European Union, as well as by the United Nations World Food Program, in its report of January 2023, entitled +Evaluation of Algeria WFP Interim Country Strategic Plan 2019-2022+.

Ambassador Hilale further noted that the Tindouf camps are militarized, in violation of international humanitarian law which requires the maintenance and preservation of the civilian character of refugee camps throughout the world.

Algeria, “which always prides itself on respecting its sovereignty, nevertheless delegates its sovereign prerogatives to an armed group linked to terrorism +Polisario+, by ceding part of its territory, the Tindouf camps. This has been strongly condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and other UN and international bodies, as contrary to international law,” he said.

And Mr. Hilale concluded that the Kingdom of Morocco strongly hopes that the Algerian ambassador devotes himself more to the urgent peace and security crises which concern the international community, than to the promotion of his country’s political agenda. against its neighbor, Morocco.

The letter addressed by Ambassador Hilale to the president and members of the UN Security Council will be published as an official document of the UN body.

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