Cenacolo's written StatementsUnited Nations Sessions

Cenacolo’s written Statement. Children’s conditions in Tindouf.

Summary of the Written statement submitted by Il Cenacolo NGO during the 49th UN Session for Human Rights. 

This written Statement has been received by the Secretary-General in accordance with Economic and Social Council resolution 1996/31. 

First of all, our delegation denounced the horrifying conditions in which children live in Tindouf camps. Violence, both physical and mental, is perpetrated on a daily basis. 

We cannot accept to witness child labour, military recruitment and ideological intoctrination in the 21st century, where human rights should be guaranteed to everyone. 

Secondly we reported the breaking of Geneva Conventions as Sahrawi children were abducted from their families, against their will and taken to Tindouf’s camps. The kind of education one receives in these camps is education for violence and hatred towards a supposed enemy. 

These children are also exploited in sugar plantations, cigar factories and vegetables picking. 

All this things are nothing, if we add that they are subjected to sexual harassment on a ongoing basis. 

The parents of these children are blackmailed by the Polisario and this also violates their right to determine their personal future. 

Thirdly, we have unmasked the fictitious agreement (Holidays for Peace) between Polisario and countries such as Spain, in which children are taken away from their natural families without their consent and given to Spanish families. Forcing these children to leave their loved one deeply affects their growth and mental health. 

Fourthly, since Polisario refuses humanitarian aid, malnutrition is common among children in the camp because It is difficult for mothers to provide enough food rations.

Algeria prefers to provide military support to the Polisario and this behaviour violates the 8th principle of UN Declaration of the Rights for the Child, which specifically stresses “the child must, in all circumstances, be among the first to receive protection and assistance”. 

Premature death is also a widespread plague in the camps because of inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, combined with malnutrition. 

In the end, we denounced the violation of the right of children to education. This right is also reflected in international and regional legal instruments, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966), which address also the right of all persons to the enjoyment of “the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health” and the right of every child to an education. 

The Polisario has set up schools in the camps to institute a complete and utter distortion of the noble message of teaching, by raising generations of young Sahrawis on speech of hatred. 

Protecting Sahrawi children is now an urgent necessity. The UNHCR must establish an effective child protection service in Tindouf to guarantee humanitarian aid and a complete education able to promote self determination.

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