The Sahrawi refugees result from an unresolved political conflict with humanitarian consequences. Their case needs to be addressed in line with humanitarian principles of neutrality and impartiality. Sahrawi refugees live in five camps with little access to outside resources and aid is still essential for their survival.
Climate in this region is extremely harsh. Access to basic resources such as food, water and healthcare, is limited. The isolated camps offer almost no employment opportunities, creating refugees’ dependency on remittances and international aid. In such a remote location, logistics play a key role in ensuring regular distribution of relief items to the refugee population.
In addition to humanitarian assistance, resources are required to provide future prospects to the second generation of Sahrawis, who were born in the camps.
Social cohesion and peace are at risk as young people are increasingly frustrated about the lack of prospects, a consequence of the political stalemate in the four decade-long conflict.
The Sahrawi refugee situation is defined as a forgotten crisis by the European Commission, as it receives little media attention and funding from the international community.
For decades, the European Commission's Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department has supported the basic needs of Sahrawi refugees. The European Commission is still a leading donor among a handful of others providing more than 49.9 % of humanitarian assistance.
Food aid is a major component of EU humanitarian funding: nearly €5 million were allocated to provide basic food items through the World Food Programme (WFP).
In addition to food, water is second major concern for the refugees. The EU helps to ensure the availability of safe drinking water in sufficient quantities. Projects have been implemented to connect the camps directly to water sources through piped networks and water trucking.
Provision of essential medicines and the incineration of healthcare waste are also funded by the Commission. Support to the handicapped, the elderly and their caregivers and capacity building of local health personnel is also ensured.
The Commission is also funding projects in the education sector. The EU works towards improving the inadequate infrastructure and sanitary facilities of schools, as well as strengthening the low level of education resulting from insufficient qualifications of teachers and educational staff.