Tuareg families left homeless after Algeria razes shanty town


Several dozen Tuareg families have been made homeless after Algerian authorities razed a shanty town in Tamanrasset. With little hope of finding new accommodation, the situation has become desperate, and the evicted families have been forced to sleep rough.

The 'al-Qamar' shanty town was torn down on April 7. Residents clashed with security forces, leaving several people injured.

Mechanical diggers get to work dismantling the shantytown on April 7. Photo sent by our Observer.

The day after the operation, dozens of families held a sit-in that lasting two days in front of the headquarters of the regional government - known as a 'Wilaya' – to demand social housing.

Families hold a sit-in in front of the headquarters of Tamanrasset's regional government on April 9. Photo published on Twitter.

Our Observer Ahmed K. lived in the shanty town until it was torn down.

The Tamanrasset Wilaya made the decision public more than a month ago. We convened a neighbourhood committee and made our way to the headquarters of the Wilaya to negotiate with the 'Wali' [Editor's note: The governor]. But he didn't want to see us.

Families hold a sit-in in front of Tamanrasset's regional government headquarters.

Houses started springing up in the area back in 2007 and the shanty town kept growing until there were around 600 homes in all. Large families lived there, some with more than 10 people. The families originally come from towns in the south, in particular Tiguenaouine, Illizi, and Tine-Zaouatine.

But some of the other families are originally from Tamanrasset itself. I have a friend who asked to be given social housing back in 1992. To this very day, he's never gotten anything.

Even today, many of the evicted families sleep right where their homes once stood, in makeshift tents stitched together using shreds of fabric.

A resident builds a makeshift tent where the shanty town once stood. Photo sent by our Observer.

This family has erected a tent on the ruins of their old home. Photo sent by our Observer.

Baba Ali Mohamed, an MP for the National Rally for Democracy - a party close to the country's ruling authorities - has pledged to support the evicted families. He also, however, vowed to fight "without respite" against the housing black market.

Our Observer says that "among those who lived in the shanty town were certain ill-intentioned people, who built houses and shacks to sell even though they already owned homes elsewhere in town".

In 2014, "L'Office de la promotion et de la gestion immobilière" OPGI) [Editor's note: Office for the promotion and management of housing] of Tamanrasset announced the construction of almost 6,000 social housing units. But many protesters accuse the organisation of favouring family and friends over those in genuine need of a home. To find out the criteria used to distribute social housing, we got in touch with the office of the town's "Wali". We will publish a response as soon as we receive one.

In the meantime, the Wilaya has announced that it will continue tearing down shanty towns. The destruction of three more neighbourhoods is already scheduled to take place before the end of April.