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Why Sahrawi refugees don't count on census to provide relief

Some international parties are pushing for an independent census regarding the number of Sahrawi refugees in Algeria, but some in the camps say they have reasons to be opposed.
Indigenous Sahrawi women walk through Al Smara desert refugee camp in Tindouf, southern Algeria March 4, 2016. In refugee camps near the town of Tindouf in arid southern Algeria, conditions are hard for indigenous Sahrawi residents. Residents use car batteries for electricity at night and depend on humanitarian aid to get by. The five camps near Tindouf are home to an estimated 165,000 Sahrawi refugees from the disputed region of Western Sahara, according to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR. REUTERS/

TINDOUF, Algeria — The international community is pushing for an independent census to determine the number of Sahrawi refugees living in Algeria, but the effort is meeting considerable resistance.

Estimates of the number of Sahrawis — the indigenous people of the Moroccan-occupied territories in disputed Western Sahara — living in Algerian camps vary greatly. The Sahrawi political-military movement Polisario Front places the figure at 160,000. Morocco, which controls most of the disputed territory in which the refugees once lived, says Algeria is sheltering at most 50,000 refugees.

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