Last Updated: Friday, 19 January 2018, 17:46 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Algeria

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 14 June 2006
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Algeria , 14 June 2006, available at: [accessed 20 January 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

There were no reports of refoulement during the year. The 1989 Constitution provided that in no case may a "political refugee" with the legal right of asylum be "delivered or extradited."

A 1963 decree established the Bureau for the Protection of Refugees and Exiles (BAPRA) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and an appellate board consisting of representatives of various ministries and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The law required applicants to submit appeals within one month after denial or within one week in cases of illegal entry, order of expulsion, or applicants the authorities deemed a security risk. The decree authorized BAPRA both to decide cases and to recognize those UNHCR had already decided under its mandate. Until May, however, BAPRA only recognized some of UNHCR's cases and none on its own, leaving several mandate refugees in an irregular status. In May, BAPRA took exclusive responsibility for refugee status determinations and rejected all 56 applications for the year.

The Government recognized the Sahrawi and all 4,000 Palestinians as refugees but, as in the past, delegated virtually all other cases to UNHCR during the year. UNHCR recognized 28 refugees under its mandate, mostly from Cameroon, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia, and Syria. BAPRA announced its willingness to take over such determinations in the future and UNHCR planned to organize training seminars in several areas of the country to realize this.

Detention/Access to Courts

There were no reports of the Government detaining refugees or asylum seekers for irregular entry or presence or for exercising any of their rights. The 1963 decree empowered BAPRA to issue personal documentation to refugees but several UNHCR mandate refugees that BAPRA did not recognize received only To Whom it May Concern certificates from UNHCR.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

The Government allowed the Western Sahara rebel group, Polisario, to confine nearly a hundred thousand refugees from the disputed Western Sahara to four camps in desolate areas outside Tindouf military zone near the Moroccan border. According to Amnesty International, "This group of refugees does not enjoy the right to freedom of movement in Algeria. ... Those refugees who manage to leave the refugee camps without being authorized to do so are often arrested by the Algerian military and returned to the Polisario authorities, with whom they cooperate closely on matters of security." Polisario checkpoints surrounded the camps, the Algerian military guarded entry into Tindouf, and the police operated checkpoints throughout the country.

The Polisario did allow some refugees to leave for education in Algeria and elsewhere and to tend livestock in the areas it controls of the Western Sahara and Mauritania. An unknown number reportedly held Mauritanian passports and the Algerian government also issued passports to those the Polisario permitted to travel abroad.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

Algerian law severely restricted the rights of foreigners and made negligible exception for non-Palestinian refugees. The 1981 Employment of Foreign Workers Law and the 1983 Order of the Ministry of Labor allowed only single employer work permits and then only for jobs for which no national, even one abroad, was qualified. Employers had to file justifications consistent with the opinions of workers' representatives. Permits were valid for no more than two years and renewal required repetition of the same procedure. Employees could not change employers until they completed their contract and then only in exceptional circumstances after consultation with the previous employer. Violators were subject to a fine and/or imprisonment from ten days to a month. The only unskilled foreigners the law permitted to work were those with "political refugee" status.

The 1990 Labor Law reiterated the labor protection requirement, without exception for refugees. A January decree established regional labor inspection offices to enforce laws regulating the employment of foreigners and to take action "against all forms of illegal work." According to UNHCR, Palestinian refugees had access to the labor market under a special dispensation.

Although the Constitution provided that "Any foreigner being legally on the national territory enjoys the protection of his person and his properties by the law," refugees could own moveable property only. The desert surrounding Tindouf where the guerillas confined refugees from Western Sahara supported virtually no livelihood activity except that refugees could own goats and sheep.

Public Relief and Education

The refugees in the camps near Tindouf were almost totally dependent on international relief from UNHCR, the World Food Programme (WFP), and the Algerian Red Cross, which aided some 90,000 considered most vulnerable. The Government claimed there were about 150,000 refugees in the camp but refused to allow a registration census. School attendance was reportedly 100 percent. UNHCR aided some 26 vulnerable refugees in the area of Algiers.

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