§ 17. Ms Kingham
To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on her Department's assistance to the Saharawi refugees from Western Sahara. 155W
§ Clare Short
Saharawi refugees fled to Algeria in 1975 to escape fighting between the Moroccan army and the Polisario Front. Despite recent signs of progress, the two side have still not resolved all their differences, and some 80,000 refugees remain in four camps in Algeria's harsh desert area of Tindouf.
The camps receive support from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), World Food Programme (WFP), Saharawi Red Cross and various NGOs. The UK is a major contributor to UNHCR: we recently announced a £10 million package of support for 1998, of which £7 million will go to general programmes which include assistance to the Saharawis. Last year, my Department also agreed to provide £50,000 to War on Want for the improvement of food storage facilities for the refugees, and £30,000 to Action Water to improve water supply and distribution in the camps.