Algeria – Floods Hit Sahrawi Refugee Camps

The European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) are reporting that since 16 October, torrential rains have affected the region of Tindouf in south-western Algeria, and the five Sahrawi refugee camps located south of the city of Tindouf. No causalities have been reported.

It is estimated by ECHO, UN, INGOs, that 4,350 households are directly impacted by the torrential rains for the time being and in need of urgent support. More rains are expected, with the risk of increasing the number of affected refugees.

A joint UN / NGOs assessment reveals important damages in the camp of Dakhla where 3 000 families are have lost their dwellings and belongings. A significant number of adobe houses and traditional tents have been destroyed, while public buildings including hospitals and schools, have also been flooded and risk collapsing.

Both the Algerian Civil Protection and armed forces of the Polisario Front have intervened immediately to support families and pump stagnant waters. The UN and NGOs working in the camps have also intervened rapidly to provide affected families with food, non-food items and water.

The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has announced EUR 200,000 to support the victims, while the Spanish Cooperation has earmarked EUR 100,000 for the same purpose.

The Sahrawi refugee camps were set-up in southwestern Algeria 40 years ago, as a consequence of the conflict between the Polisario Front and the Morocco. To date, the conflict remains unresolved, prohibiting the refugees to go back to their place of origin in Western Sahara.

Sahrawi refugee camp.
Sahrawi refugee camp. Photo: European Commission DG ECHO, under Creative Commons