Sunday, September 11 , 2022
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REUTERS/BORJA SUAREZ  –   Smara refugee camp, Tindouf, Algeria
The situation in the Tindouf camps continues to worsen in the face of dwindling financial contributions and a deteriorating nutritional situation. These refugee camps in western Algeria rely mainly on humanitarian aid to meet their food and subsistence needs, and in the face of inaction by the Algerian authorities, the UN has warned the North African country that the Sahrawi refugees may be at risk of further food insecurity and malnutrition.
“International solidarity is crucial to reverse the rapidly deteriorating nutritional situation in the refugee camps, with lasting effects on the population, especially children,” said Alejando Alvarez, UN Resident Coordinator in Algeria, in a statement.
The UN urged the international community to do more to provide food assistance to refugees who have seen their monthly food rations cut by 75 per cent, “less than the recommended daily caloric intake per person”, because of rising global food and fuel prices caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and funding shortfalls caused by the Covid pandemic. 
The United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have been active in raising awareness among their partners of the urgent situation in Tindouf.
“This situation has profoundly affected all sectors of humanitarian assistance, causing worrying impediments to refugees’ access to food, water, health, nutrition, education and other essential livelihood services,” Alvarez added. 
Although the funds required for assistance have increased in one year from $19.8 million to $39 million, the UN has deemed them “insufficient” to avert the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. This affects the situation of children the most. According to UN data, half of the children aged 6-59 months in Tindouf are anaemic, one in three is stunted and only one in three children received the minimum diverse diet for healthy growth. 
The Tindouf refugee camps have hosted more than 100,000 women, children and men for 47 years in situations described as inhumane by Algeria’s continued refusal to recognise Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara. In this sense, Spain’s diplomatic turnaround with its former colony has allowed the government to advocate a dignified solution for the camps in accordance with UN dictates. This was acknowledged by the Spanish government spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez. “Hopefully those people who today sleep in those tents, in the Algerian desert, will be able to find a legitimate position within the scope of the United Nations and its resolutions”, the spokesperson said.
Isabel Rodríguez reaffirmed the position of the Spanish government in favour of Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, contrary to the declarations made hours earlier by the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, on a consultation with the Saharawi people. A position also described as “incoherent” and “outdated” by the former minister Lahcen Haddad. Rodríguez advocates continuing with the agreed policy in order to contribute to “resolving a conflict that has run aground for almost half a century”.
 
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