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» 29.10.2010 - 20,000 Western Sahara protesters "starving"
» 21.10.2010 - "Mass exodus" from Western Sahara cities
» 14.04.2010 - Sahrawis fed up with UN chief
» 03.02.2010 - New talks on Western Sahara in US
» 17.11.2009 - Unblock foreign visits to Sahrawi activists, HRW
» 18.03.2009 - UN send mission to assess Sahrawi refugees situation
» 15.09.2006 - EU donates €10 million to Western Sahara refugees
» 23.10.2003 - Locusts to spread from Mauritania to Western Sahara

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Western Sahara
Society | Agriculture - Nutrition

Sahrawi refugee children in dire need of food

afrol News, 15 May - The declining humanitarian assistance in the Sahrawi refugee's camp in Algeria leaves children with severe malnutrition. According to a Norwegian Church Aid report to be published next week, one out of five children who have grown up in refuges camp in Algeria are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The findings of the new 2008 report shows the number of malnourished children under five years had more than doubled in 3 years rising from 8 in 2005 to 19 percent in 2008.

The Sahrawis' problems are compounded by the long dragging situation where Morocco - originally agreeing on settlement plans to let Western Sahara have their democratic exercise in deciding whether they want independence or not - has blocked a solution to the conflict.

Chairman of the Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara, Ronny Hansen, attributed decrease in humanitarian assistance to donor fatigue in assisting on the long dragging situation. "Very few states, Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) or even UN agencies are willing to continue funding the same emergency for decades especially when there does not seem to be any imminent political solution on the horizon," he told afrol News.

He said the neglect by the international community is one of the reasons behind the conflict being dragging for a long time, adding that the African Union cannot act on Morocco since it is not a member.

Mr Hansen said the advocacy campaigns can help change the situation for the Sahrawi refugees, adding that his organisation is lobbying governments and international organisations and companies to remember the Sahrawis and protect their rights and natural resources. "We are constantly lobbying aid organisations and donors to keep providing aid to the Sahrawi refugees while they wait for a proper solution," he emphasised.

The study is commissioned by the Norwegian Church Aid and Spanish Medicos del Mundo had sampled population from the entire four Sahrawi refugee camps will be launched next week. It concluded that child malnutrition rates in the Sahrawi camps were even higher than in Darfur; a region the UN considers having crossed the emergency threshold.

The Sahrawis are indigenous to Western Sahara, a country that was occupied by Morocco in 1975. Since then, a majority of the population has fled to refugee camps in the Algerian desert.

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