The president of the CEAS federation of Spanish groups that support Western Sahara announced Monday that 20 aid workers will travel Aug.7 to refugee camps in Algeria even though Spain's government warns they could be targeted by terrorist attacks.
The trip, Jose Taboada told Efe, was not planned, but is "a response to this severe action taken by the government" and to the "fear it is trying to instill in Spanish society" so that "no one will visit the Saharawi refugee camps."
The Spanish government decided on the urgent repatriation last Saturday of 12 aid workers from Algeria due to "well-founded indications" of possible attacks by terrorists based in northern Mali.
Taboada said the purpose of the 20 aid workers' trip is not only to deliver humanitarian aid but also to reaffirm the commitment of pro-Saharawi associations to continue helping them and providing the goods they need.
He said that before deciding to go back to the camps, the group weighed the government's warning as well as the safety offered them by Saharawi and Algerian authorities "in a protocol signed seven months ago, of which the Spanish government is aware and which boosts the security" of aid workers "by many, many degrees."
Taboada, who is among the group planning to leave on Aug. 7, said the government should specify the reasons that led to its repatriation of aid workers from the area.
He said that "what must not be done is to flee the territory and thus fulfill the terrorists' wishes, which is that we abandon the Saharawis."
"We're not going to do it," he said.
"We reaffirm that we will stay there and will not isolate the Saharawi people in that desert and in those camps," Taboada said.
The camps harbor Saharawis opposed to Morocco's annexation of Western Sahara, a former Spanish colony seized by Rabat in 1975.
And he insisted that they are not being "irresponsible" with the aid misson, but rather they know that "the Saharawis will not leave their Spanish brothers without security."
Three European aid workers kidnapped nearly 10 months ago from a Saharawi refugee camp in Algeria were released safe and sound in Mali on July 18.
Spaniards Ainhoa Fernandez de Rincon and Enric Gonyalons and Italian national Rosella Urru were abducted Oct. 23 from a facility near the Algerian town of Tindouf where foreign aid workers are lodged.
The abductions were carried out by a branch of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and the captives were taken to northern Mali, an area now effectively under the control of Tuareg separatists. EFE