EU humanitarian aid for Tindouf camps taxed by Algeria?
In the context of the European Parliaments budgetary discharge report 2013, the Taxpayers Association of Europe was shocked to learn of large scale embezzlement of EU humanitarian aid designated for the Tindouf refugee camps by Sahrawi and Algerian officials. According to an OLAF report, the corrupt officials declared false numbers of refugees to inflate the levels of aid and then sold part of the aid deliveries for their personal enrichment. Since the beginning of the EUs aid for the Tindouf camps over 30 years ago, with declared annual aid levels of around €10 million, at least €250 million have been spent by European Taxpayers.
As shocking as the revelation of fraud itself was the European Commissions failure to take appropriate counter-actions. In a hearing in the European Parliaments budgetary control committee in July 2015, an official from the Commissions DG ECHO mentioned that Algeria imposes taxes of 5% of the annual €10 million in humanitarian aid to the Tindouf Camps, adding that this is an unacceptable practice the Commission wishes to change. It seems indeed that the European Commission is the only international organization that pays such a tax for their humanitarian aid to the Tindouf camps as the UN humanitarian aid agencies, including the World Food Programme, do not pay any taxes on the aid they channel to the camps. A conservative estimate would indicate that over the last 30 years, the EU paid between €10 million and €25 million in taxes to Algeria.
Now, one year later, the situation has worsened dramatically and the EU faces the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War while many European economies continue to suffer. In this context, every euro of European Taxpayers money spent counts. The Tindouf camps are just one example. This week, the European Parliament will again vote on the Budgetary Discharge but Tindouf is not on the agenda. Does this mean that all problems of corruption and unfair taxation have been solved? If that is the case, the European Commission and the European Parliament should inform the public so people can be re-assured their taxes are well spent.