The fact of exchanging visits between the Sahrawi families living in Morocco and those in Tindouf camps in Algeria, supervised by the UNHCR, was again questioned. Polisario and Algeria refused to let 20 Moroccan beneficiaries leave the plane chartered by the UN agency, an action which immediately provoked the indignant reaction of the UNHCR.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has expressed, on 20th September in Geneva, its “great disappointment” for this ban that violates the rights of separated Sahrawi families. This operation, besides being eminently humanitarian, aimed at reviving the visits program, as an essential tool in building trust between the Western Sahara issue protagonists.
“To our great disappointment, the 20 passengers on the flight were prevented from leaving the plane by the representatives of the Polisario Front in Tindouf”, explained the UNHCR. The UN agency added, however, that it would ask for explanations so that “the Polisario Front clarifies the reasons for denying disembarkation” of the 20 Moroccans.
The ban is to be compared with the attitude recently adopted by the Polisario and Algeria, on all the matters concerning the Sahara issue. The case of the inspector general of the Polisario police, Mustapha Salma Ould Sidi Mouloud, is a clear proof of such an attitude. This senior executive in the Polisario hierarchy has simply been banned from returning to Tindouf camps. He was accused of “treason” without any further ado, for the simple reason that he expressed his support to the autonomy Plan in the Sahara, proposed by Morocco.
A ban that made Christian Cambon, President of the French Senate delegation who visited the Sahara last week, say that the case of Mustafa Salma is “highly reflecting the sad human reality existing in Tindouf camps ”.