quinta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2008

Red Crescent makes "urgent" aid appeal for Saharan refugees

ALGIERS,The Saharawi Red Crescent (SRC) launched an urgent appeal Tuesday for international aid to help Saharan refugees hit by recent flooding in Algeria, the Algerian APS news agency reported.

Nearly 1,800 homes in the refugee camps Smara and Aousserd, in southwestern Algeria, were damaged by flooding following violent rains this month, the SRC statement said, cited by APS.

Torrential downpours damaged schools -- where classes were suspended -- and destroyed existing aid supplies, APS reported.

Food "supplied by the World Food Programme and other humanitarian organisations" has been destroyed "at a time when the stock of food products financed by the European Union's department of humanitarian aid had not yet" been reached, said the SRC.

Since Morocco annexed Western Sahara in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Saharawi refugees have been forced to live in harsh desert camps and depend on international assistance for their survival.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has donated more than 160 million dollars (117 million euros) in food aid since 1986 to more than 165,000 Saharawi refugees in Algeria.

SRC has said previously in that a large portion of UN aid fails to get to the refugees who need it.

The Polisario Front, backed by Algeria, wants independence for the territory on the west African coast.

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