'We won't leave our homes': Residents in Egypt's Al-Arish protest ongoing home demolitions

'We won't leave our homes': Residents in Egypt's Al-Arish protest ongoing home demolitions
The home demolitions have been imposed in a bid to expand Al-Arish's port as part of a plan by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to supposedly revitalise Egypt's economy.
3 min read
26 May, 2023
Around 20,000 people are impacted by home demolitions carried out in the North Sinai city of Al-Arish [Getty]

Residents in the Egyptian town of Al-Arish have expressed anger over security forces demolishing their homes to make way for a new port in the Suez Canal.

Earlier this week, several residents attempted to confront security forces in a bid to save their homes from destruction, although the heavy presence of security forces stopped any efforts by the city's residents.

In videos shared by activists online, men, women and children can be seen visibly distressed while protesting against the destruction of their homes in the city's Al-Mina district.

One man can be heard saying: "Don't you feel us? We have deprived ourselves of food and clothing to build a roof over our heads!"

The man proceeds to call those destroying homes in the North Sinai city "oppressors", saying that the expansion was carried out "at the expense of poor people".

The Sinai Foundation for Human Rights NGO said that Egyptian security forces launched a campaign to demolish homes in Arish in March this year despite residents' protests, according to Al-Jazeera Mubasher.

The group's director, Ahmed Salem, also stated that at least 20,000 people are impacted by the ongoing home demolitions.

Many residents who gave up their homes had complained that they were not adequately compensated despite promises, while others were at risk of homelessness due to insufficient funds to rent other properties, the NGO added.

Additionally, many handed over ownership of their homes due to pressure from security forces, while a number of homes were destroyed before compensation was even offered, leaving many homeless.

In 2021, Egyptian Presidential Decree number 465 ordered that residents in Al-Arish's port be transferred.

"All land surrounding the port deemed necessary for development work is to be reallocated for the benefit of the armed forces, with a total area of 541,82 acres," the decree states.

Earlier this week, Al-Arish residents issued a statement saying they refused to leave their homes due to "the failure to provide them with alternative homes, the failure to pay fair compensation and the governor's lack of credibility in conveying information to officials".

They urged President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to intervene and put a halt to the home evictions and destruction.

Efforts to halt the home demolitions have been met with violent repression by security forces, according to The New Arab's Arabic-language site, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

Al-Arish is North Sinai’s only port, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

The development plan is scheduled to be completed within two years under the supervision of the Armed Forces' Engineering Authority, aimed at extending the quay to 1.5 kilometres and deepening the port to 14 meters, allowing the entry of ships with loads of up to 40,000 tons.

The development of the port and its expansion are part of a plan to help bolster Egypt's struggling economy by privatising ports in and around the Suez Canal.