Algeria + 1 more

Algeria: Humanitarian aid for the Sahrawi refugees

Situation Report
Originally published


Location of operation: ALGERIA
Amount of Decision: EUR 10,000,000
Decision reference number: ECHO/DZA/BUD/2006/02000

Explanatory memorandum

1 - Rationale, needs and target population:

1.1. - Rationale:

For the last thirty years the majority of Sahrawi refugees have lived spread over four camps located around Tindouf in the South Western part of Algeria. This refugee population is to a large extent dependent on international aid.

The most important and permanent needs addressed by this decision concern food, water, health and education.

In view of the frozen political situation, the main objective of this decision is to meet the basic needs of the Sahrawi refugees.

Since 1975, Morocco and the Polisario Front have been fighting over the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara.

A conflict settlement plan adopted in 1991 by the UN Security Council foresaw a referendum to let voters choose between independence and integration with Morocco. The plan made very little progress until 1997, when, at the instigation of James Baker, UN special envoy for the Western Sahara, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Polisario Front signed the Houston accords. These enabled MINURSO (United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara) to resume the task of identifying voters, which had been suspended in May 1996.

In the years that followed, no breakthrough was achieved. In the absence of any agreement on the make-up of the electorate, and faced with 130,000 appeals, the UN proposed a variety of scenarios, none of which achieved consensus among all the parties.

The latest Baker proposal(1) is based on the framework agreement, with a somewhat altered content. The basis of this proposal (James Baker plan II) is extensive autonomy of the Sahrawis under Moroccan authority, with a referendum on self-determination to be held after 4 or 5 years. The Polisario Front eventually accepted this new plan, which does not completely reflect its aspirations but gives more guarantees than the previous plan. However, Morocco refused the plan because it would not provide an absolute guarantee of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara. Although it stated that it was willing to discuss the plan, it refuses to accept any self-determination that might compromise its sovereignty over Western Sahara. The most recent report to the Security Council, dated 19 April 2006, recommended extending the mandate of the MINURSO until 31 October 2006, in view of either a further unlimited extension or a renewed direct dialogue between the Polisario Front and Morocco. The Security Council decided, in its resolution of 28 April 2006, to extend the mandate of MINURSO until 31 October 2006.


(1) Presented on 23.05.03 in the general report of the SG of the UN.