The internal situation in the Tindouf camps is becoming increasingly tense

Dissent against the Polisario Front in the Tindouf camps increases

photo_camera REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMR - Tindouf refugee camp, southern Algeria

The situation in the Tindouf camps is worsening. After Morocco has been gaining supporters who finally recognise Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara, the Polisario Front is losing more and more influence, even among the refugees in the Algerian camps.

According to Al-Arab media, general discontent is more than evident. Several of the refugees are reported to be rebelling against the Polisario Front authorities, adding to the problems they are already facing.  They also note that there is "a conflict between the emerging young leaders and the old leaders who have controlled the reins of government for decades". 

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In the midst of the Polisario's international isolation following Spain's recent recognition of Morocco's sovereignty over Western Sahara, the Tindouf camps have witnessed several opposition movements against the Polisario Front, as well as confrontations between the Sahrawi tribes themselves.

At the end of March, members of the Awlad Musa tribe reportedly attacked a Polisario checkpoint outside a camp called "Smara". As a result of pressure exerted by the tribe on the Polisario, the latter was forced to release the young detainees. They accused the Polisario authorities of having insulted and tortured them. 

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Morocco's permanent representative to the UN, Omar Hilale, has previously warned of "multiple" and "serious" violations against the refugees in the camp, including arbitrary arrests, torture, disappearances, as well as "the practice of slavery".

Faced with this situation, several Saharawi organisations have appealed to the international community and international human rights organisations to intervene in order to determine the extent of the violations in the camps.

Thus, the Forum for the Support of Autonomy in the Tindouf Camps, known under the acronym "Forstein", has previously announced that the Polisario Front has failed to put an end to "inter-communal conflicts" and accuses them of being involved in "multiple violations" against the population.

On the other hand, international observers indicated that "the rate of poverty, deprivation of liberty and basic rights", as well as the desperation that reigns among young people, makes them easy prey for terrorist groups in the Sahel region.  According to the same Forum, several refugees are trying to flee to neighbouring areas, although the situation is complicated because Algeria imposes the condition that they must have a permit to leave the camps, which makes their dramatic situation even more difficult.
 

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