UN opens humanitarian aid in Algeria to help Sahrawi refugees

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Syrian refugees arrive in Lebanon earlier this year after fleeing their homes in western Syria. The number of Syrian refugees has passed 2.563 million. UNHCR/A.McConnell

The United Nations on Tuesday launched a two-year aid plan worth 214 million U.S. dollars for Sahrawi refugees and their descendants in Algeria, a UN spokesman said.

The objective of the 2024-2025 multi-agency Sahrawi refugee response plan is to ensure food stability, a reliable water supply and nutritional requirements of people living in camps in Tindouf, Algeria, said Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

“Funding will also be used to enhance educational access, offer protection services, and to improve and promote the health of the men, women and children living there,” Haq said. “The plan also includes measures to diversify livelihood activities.”

He said the plan is led by the UN Refugee Agency, the World Food Programme, the UN Children’s Fund and the World Health Organization. It encompasses a robust and sustainable alliance of all 28 humanitarian organizations working at the sites to meet the needs of Sahrawi refugees.

“Our colleagues note that donors have demonstrated steadfast solidarity with the Sahrawi refugees by providing critical humanitarian support,” the spokesman said. “However, they say that despite this support, operations there remain underfunded.”

He added that with the response plan, the world body renewed its call to fund operations to provide humanitarian assistance to Sahrawi refugees.

The Sahrawis fled their Western Sahara homes in the mid-1970s after Morocco claimed the territory in conflict with the Polisario Front. The Sahrawis and their descendants now mostly live in camps in Tindouf, Algeria, about 50 km from the Morocco-Mauritania-Western Sahara borders.

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