Egyptian minister defends eviction of Warraq Island residents amid controversial 'development' plan

Egyptian minister defends eviction of Warraq Island residents amid controversial 'development' plan
The Egyptian government has approved plans to evict several thousand residents from Warraq Island near Cairo amid a controversial plan for 're-development'
2 min read
19 August, 2022
The Egyptian government has taken control of over 70% of Warraq island so far [Getty]

An Egyptian minister defended on Thursday the eviction of residents from the Nile island of Warraq, as the state readies the area for a controversial "development" project.

At a press conference, housing and utilities minister Assem al-Jazzar claimed that the homes from which people were evicted are "random… and were not issued building permits by competent authorities". 

Al-Jazzar's statement came after Egyptian security forces attacked demonstrators on the island near Cairo on Monday, arresting 14 people and beating some protesters.

The government plans to evict residents and confiscate their property to make way for commercial and tourism projects - despite arbitrary displacement being illegal under Egyptian law.

The Egyptian government has referred to residents as "squatters", but residents say they have documents proving their ownership of their homes and have raised court cases against the government.

In 2017, the government announced a plan to "develop" and rename the island Horus City, and released images showing an ambitious plan to build skyscrapers and resorts.

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Al-Jazzar said landowners were being compensated for their loss, with six billion Egyptian pounds (US$313.4 million) paid out so far.

The minister said the state has to date "purchased" 888 acres of the island – roughly three-quarters of the land, according to official estimates.

Al-Jazzar stated the government is "either compensating the owners according to the assessment authorities’ estimation… or granting a housing unit in a place other than the island" - with some residents already moving to other cities.

"Negotiations are underway to evacuate [remaining] residents," he added.

It was not clear from the minister's statement what could happen to residents of the island that are not, or not recognised as homeowners.