Support crucial to maintain airlifts to Algerian refugees UN agency says

UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spokesman Ron Redmond said today at a press briefing in Geneva that it was critical to get the supplies to the refugees in the three camps as the agency’s air support will end this weekend with the scheduled departure of the last military cargo plane.Another 10 to 15 flights by C-130 cargo planes are needed to transport the 150 tonnes of supplies – including 800 tents, 43,000 blankets, 10,000 mattresses, 3,000 plastic sheets and 8,000 jerry cans – from agency stockpiles in Jordan.Mr. Redmond said that the refugees’ homes literally dissolved after three days of rare, torrential downpours nearly two weeks ago. “More than 50 per cent of the infrastructure in three camps was also severely damaged, much of it on the verge of collapse,” he added.Most of the Sahrawi refugees have been living for more than 30 years in the desert regions of western Algeria, totally dependent on outside assistance. They started arriving in Algeria in 1976 after Spain withdrew from Western Sahara and fighting broke out over control of that territory. UNHCR is presently supporting 90,000 of the most vulnerable refugees in five camps in the Tindouf area.In the meantime, UNHCR and its partners are working on the ground to care for the refugees and provide adequate housing. The World Food Programme (WFP) has provided food and other relief items from its stocks. Most of thee camp infrastructure was destroyed and relief officials need additional emergency tents to serve as temporary classrooms, nurseries, kindergartens and community centres for youth, women and children. read more