Algeria (Saharawi refugees)
(A North African Maghreb state, Algeria (The People's Democratic Republic of Algeria – PDRA) is at once the biggest country in Africa, of the Arab world and the Mediterranean. It borders Tunisia in the North East, Libya (East), Niger and Mali (South), Mauritania and the Non-Self-Governing Territory of Western Sahara, and Morocco (West). Algeria gained independence in 1962, becoming a member of the United Nations, the African Union, and the League of Arab State, and in 2008 re-joined the Union for the Mediterranean, which has brought together states bordering the Mediterranean and member states of the European Union.
TGH has been present in Algeria since 2000 implementing programmes in various sectors, supporting Sahrawi refugees in Algerian territory (near Tindouf in the South-West of the country).
Western Sahara, a Non-Self-Governing Territory according to the UN, is in North West Africa. Its coast is on the Atlantic, and it is bordered by Morocco (North), Algeria (North East), and Mauritania (East and South). This former Spanish colony has yet to find a definitive legal status, more than thirty five years after the departure of the Spanish in 1976. The territory is claimed by both Morocco and the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR), proclaimed by the Polisario Front in 1976. Mediation by the UN in 1991 enabled a ceasefire to the armed conflict which had begun in 1976. Today, the territory is divided by a wall built in the 1980s by Morocco, which occupies 80% of the territory to its West, the other 20% being under the control of the Polisario Front. The referendum desired by the UN to determine the territory’s status has been postponed several times. Since 2007, the UN has been mediating between representatives of Morocco and the Polisario Front, without obtaining agreement. Morocco proposes broad self-government allowing for local government under Moroccan sovereignty. The Polisario Front, supported by Algeria, claims total independence.
Since 1975 several thousand people have left Western Sahara to escape the conflict, and are refugees on the other side of the Algerian border. These people, currently estimated by the Algerian authorities at more than 165,000, have lived for more than thirty five years in camps split up around the city of Tindouf. International aid is indispensable for these refugees to gain access to essential services (water and sanitation access, hygiene, food/nutrition, healthcare, support for the vulnerable ...). While waiting for the launch of a registration campaign, UNHCR has implemented annual programmes based on an estimated figure of 90,000 vulnerable refugees in the camps, a figure, which rose to 125,000 in 2007.
After two evaluation missions in 2000, TGH's Sahrawi refugee camp programme began in 2001 with a project to support handicapped children reception centres (rehabilitation, equipment, training of trainers). TGH has carried out many programmes with continuing UN(UNHCR) or European Union (DG-ECHO) funding, gathered for this “forgotten crisis”: distribution to Sahrawi women of hygiene kits consisting of basic products (soap, shampoo, detergents, sanitary towels), production of household bleach for Sahrawi institutions (especially hospitals), support for centres for the handicapped and capacity building for public officials specialised in caring for these people, management of a mechanic’s workshop for repairing of the fleet of vehicles supplying humanitarian aid to the camps (distribution of water, food, non-food goods, ambulances, programme vehicles), management of UNHCR bases in Dakhla and Rabouni(the latter hosting the offices of humanitarian organisations), supply of medical equipment and consumables and repair of medical infrastructure (hospitals, dispensaries, pharmacies).
In mid-October 2015, the 5 Saharawi refugee camps located in south-western Algeria, near Tindouf, have in turn been hit by heavy rains, causing severe flooding destroying a significant number of refugee families' dwellings as well as food and non-food items. As part of its mandate, TGH, was there, together with the humanitarian actors present in this area, to respond to the urgency of this situation.