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Press release

EU must act on Saharawi floods

Press release from EFA MEP Jordi Sebastià (Compromís)

In an initiative led by Greens/EFA MEP Jordi Sebastià, 62 MEPs from six different political groups are calling on the European Commission to act to help Saharawi refugees affected by devastating flooding in the Tindouf region of Algeria.

MEP Jordi Sebastià

The MEPs have co-signed an open letter to European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Cristos Stylianides calling on Europe to play a leading role in responding to the crisis. They called for a new tranche of humanitarian aid to be released.

According to the UNHCR, heavy rain and flooding in recent weeks has led to widespread damage in five refugee camps where around 90,000 refugees from Western Sahara are sheltering. The UNHCR estimates that some 25,000 people have seen their homes and food supplies damaged or destroyed.

Jordi Sebastià said:

"The situation for many thousands of Saharawi refugees is desperate following the recent devastating floods and rain. We need an urgent humanitarian response on a large scale and the EU can play a leading role.

"Already the UNHCR has made an urgent appeal for donors of emergency funding. We as MEPs are calling on the European Commission to show solidarity with the Saharawi refugees and provide funding to help aid agencies respond to this desperate situation.

"Refugees from Western Sahara are entirely dependent on international aid. Europe has a moral obligation to step up and provide assistance."


For more information see: http://www.unhcr.org/562a19706.html

The letter is copied below:

Brussels, October 2015

Dear Mr. Stylianides, The European Parliament is deeply concerned about the current humanitarian crisis in Western Sahara after the torrential rains which have devastated five refugee camps at Tindouf region.

As the Sahara desert almost never gets rain, such an unusual weather has produced an emergency situation, flooding and destroying parts of the camps that provide shelter to some 90,000 of the most vulnerable Sahrawi refugees in southwest Algeria. Sahrawi tents and mud-brick homes, as well as other infrastructure such as dispensaries, hospitals and schools, have been damaged and destroyed. Latrines will need to be rebuilt and floodwaters will need to be quickly removed to avoid disease, contamination of water sources and building collapses.

We, as members of the European Parliament, call on the European Commission to play a leading role on the emergency crisis. We call on a new money allocation to respond to the disaster, because Sahrawi refugees depend only on international aid.

We ask more international solidarity with Sahrawi refugees, pending a political solution to the question of Western Sahara. They have been living in the Algerian region of Tindouf for almost 40 years despite its harsh climate and limited access to basic resources.

Yours sincerely,

Members of the European Parliament

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