Morocco’s Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the United Nations Office in Geneva (UNOG), Omar Zniber, stressed, on October 10, that the militarization of the Tindouf camps in south-west Algeria, along with the refusal of the host state to register the sequestered population, is a violation of the immutable principles of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
Speaking during the general debate of the 74th session of the Executive Committee of the Programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Zniber shed light on “the alarming situation in the Tindouf camps”, stressing that “the militarization of the camps is an abnormal situation unique in the annals of the UHRC”.
The Moroccan diplomat warned that the absence of a census makes it impossible to assess needs, hinders fraud prevention, and affects the integrity of the United Nations High Commissioner’s (UNHRC) protection systems.
“We call on the international community, including donors and organizations, to urge Algeria to comply and allow the UNHRC to carry out a census of the populations sequestered in the Tindouf camps”, stressed the Moroccan diplomat.
Zniber also stressed that Morocco, as both host state and donor state for refugees, is committed to a humanist, realistic, and pragmatic vision that meets the needs of refugees.
“The Kingdom is one of the few States to call for the inclusion of refugees in national health systems”, emphasized Zniber, underlining that “this commitment is based on in-depth work carried out throughout this year, fueled by the adoption in June 2023 of the Rabat Declaration on the Health of Refugees and Migrants at the 3rd Global Consultation of the same name, which was held in Morocco”.
In this regard, the Moroccan diplomat affirmed that the Kingdom is pursuing a policy of comprehensive inclusion, enabling refugees to access basic services and the job market on the same footing as Moroccans.
Zniber also explained that the humanitarian agenda of the Kingdom, the host country of the Marrakech Pact, is in line with its migration agenda pursued under the High Directives of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, through the implementation of a national asylum and immigration strategy.
“Over 130 million people will be covered by the UNHCR’s mandate by 2024. This calls for an urgent humanitarian but also political commitment, based on the cardinal value of sharing burdens and responsibilities”, noted Zniber.
The Moroccan diplomat also stressed that action cannot be confined to border control, especially during a time when UNHCR is observing a clear increase in mixed movements throughout the world, particularly in Africa, further calling for the swift management of the root causes of this phenomenon.