29 September 2009
National reconciliation fails to address needs of IDPs
Although Algeria was affected by large-scale displacement caused by conflict between 1992 and 2002, internally displaced people (IDPs) were not a priority for the government during or after the conflict. As a result, even the most basic information about their number and situation has consistently been unavailable. The European Union estimated at the end of the conflict that violence had displaced one million people, while other sources put the number as high as 1.5 million. The government has not contested these figures.
Furthermore, there is no indication about whether these IDPs have achieved durable solu- tions. The government has stated that no-one remains displaced, but has not provided in- formation about returns or living conditions in areas of origin. It is likely that most IDPs have remained in the cities they fled to, and mixed with other poor populations there, as ac- cess to livelihoods in rural areas has remained very limited. Lack of support, justice, and reparations for IDPs has been the norm.
While security has steadily improved since 2002, attacks in Algerian towns and cities by the rebel organisation called “al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb” increased in 2007 and 2008. The President began a third presidential term in 2009 after modifying the Constitution to allow for re-election, and these attacks seem to reflect a growing discontent at single-party dominance.
If the situation of IDPs and others affected by the conflict and more recent attacks is not to fall into oblivion, international condemnation for these attacks must be paired with de- mands about the situation of human rights, including the rights of the large numbers of people that were victims of forced displacement.