Western Sahrawi in Algeria
Western Sahara is a former Spanish colony which was subsequently annexed by
Morocco and Mauritania in 1975-1976. The Sahrawi Polisario Liberation Front
declared the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) and formed a government in
exile. In 1979, Mauritania abandoned its territorial claim but fighting between
Morocco and the Polisario Front continued until 1991, when a UN sponsored peace
plan was adopted. The peace process included a referendum in which the country's
inhabitants must choose whether Western Sahara would integrate with Morocco or
be independent. However, the referendum has not yet been implemented, because of
a deadlock over who is eligible to vote (Oneworld, 12/02). By late 1975,
thousands of people had fled annexed territories to camps in the east of the
region. After the camps had been bombarded with napalm, people moved further to
south-west Algeria, near the oasis town of Tindouf. Some 155,000 to 165,000
people, according to different estimates, mainly women, children and the
elderly, are settled in four camps in this isolated desert area. The camps are
administered by SADR ministries. Isolation and the environmental hostility of
the area makes humanitarian aid difficult to deliver and impedes refugee
selfsufficiency. Major food providers are WFP and ECHO. WFP often experiences
lapses of contributions; in June 2002 refugees only received cereals as oil and
pulses were not available (AFROL, 08/06/02). WFP also fears severe food
shortfall from September 2002 (WFP, 08/02). Despite diet diversification
activities (poultry, livestock and horticultural projects) and income-generating
activities having been put in place, it is thought that the refugees are highly
dependent on food aid. However, no food security assessment has been undertaken.
Inadequate water supply and poor water quality appear to be two of the main
problems in the camps (USCR, 2002). UNHCR had to postpone improvement in water
delivery because of a funding shortfall (AFROL, 24/10/02).
A survey was undertaken in September 2002 in the refugee camps, with the aim
of assessing under-five anthropometric status and micronutrient deficiencies (ICH/UNHCR/WFP/MOH,
09/02). Preliminary results indicate an average nutrition situation: 10.6 % of
the children were acutely malnourished, including 2.2 % severely malnourished.
The prevalence of malnutrition has remained stable since 1997 (see graph).
Acute malnutrition, Sarahwi refugees in Algeria
Stunting was present in 32.8% of the children (95% CI: 29.7-36.1), including
11.2% (95% CI: 9.2-13.5) severe stunting. After a significant improvement
between 1997 and 2001, probably partly due to distribution of micronutrient
enriched food, stunting has remained stable (see graph).
Stunting, Sarahwi refugees in Algeria
According to vaccination cards, measles vaccination coverage of 12-23
month-old children was 66.7%, but was higher for BCG (78.6%) and DPT (77.0%).
Adult anthropometry was not assessed in this survey, but the 2001 survey
reported that about 60% of the women of reproductive age were overweight (BMI >
25) (CISP/UNHCR/INRAN, 12/01). Final results of the 2002 survey will be reported
in the next RNIS issue, including micronutrient status and diet pattern.
Overall - The nutrition situation of Sahrawi refugee children seems
average (category III) but could deteriorate if refugees were highly dependent
on food aid and that food aid were to be disrupted by pipeline breaks. Analyses
of food security and underlying causes of malnutrition need to be undertaken to
better understand the overall nutrition situation of the refugees.
Réfugiés du Sahara Occidental en Algérie
Le Sahara Occidental, ancienne colonie Espagnole, a été annexé par le
Maroc et la Mauritanie dans les années 1975-76. Il s'en est suivi une fuite
de la population, d'abord vers des camps à l'est du pays, puis vers le
sud-ouest de l'Algérie, après que les camps aient été bombardés au napalm.
La Mauritanie a par la suite abandonné ces prétentions territoriales et un
plan de paix a été adopté par le Front Polisario Sahraoui et le Maroc, mais
n'a toujours pas débouché sur un accord concret. Environ 155 000 à 165 000
réfugiés sahraouis vivent depuis le milieu des années 70 dans quatre camps
près de l'oasis de Tindouf, en Algérie. Bien que des activités génératrices
de revenus aient été mises en place, les réfugiés sont considérés comme
fortement dépendants de l'aide internationale, mais aucune enquête ne l'a
prouvé. L'approvisionnement en eau de qualité est l'un des problèmes majeurs
dans les camps. Selon une enquête nutritionnelle réalisée en Septembre 2002,
la prévalence de la malnutrition aiguë était de 10,6%, incluant 2,2% de
malnutrition sévère, soit une situation nutritionnelle moyenne (catégorie
III). Cette situation pourrait se détériorer si les réfugiés s'avèrent être
fortement dépendants de l'aide alimentaire et si celle-ci venait à être
perturbée. Une enquête de sécurité alimentaire devrait être entreprise pour
mieux connaître les sources de nourriture et de revenus des réfugiés.