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Algeria: National reconciliation fails to address needs of IDPs

29 September 2009

no data is available on people who have integrated in their area of displacement or resettled elsewhere in the country.

According to anecdotal reports, some 60,000 families returned between 2002 and 2005 to the rural areas of Khenchela and more than 2,400 families to Relizane Province (Le Jeune Indépendant, 27 De- cember 2005). There are also newspaper reports of returns in the Provinces of Aïn Defla, Annaba, Bouira, Chlef, Mascara, Médéa, Sétif, Skikda Tiaret and Tissemlit (La Dépêche de Kabylie, 3 October 2007; Le Soir d’Algérie, 9 January 2007, 26 January 2006, 15 November 2005; El Watan, 4 February 2006, 1 October 2005; El Moudjahid, 13 September 2006, 13 August 2005; La Tribune d’Algerie, 29 September 2004). According to one 2006 report, returnees in Algiers Province were facing numerous problems in rebuilding their lives due to high unemployment rates and a lack of basic infrastructure (Le Soir d’Algérie, 26 January 2006).

Security in areas of return has improved consistently over the past few years, thanks also to the gradual redeployment since 2006 of security forces to the Kaby- lia region, where AQIM had carried out numerous attacks (BBC, 2009; L’Expression, 10 July 2006). The security forces had been withdrawn from Kabylia following the Kabyle Berber protests of the “Black Spring” of late April 2001 (ICG, 10 June 2003; Afriqu’Echos, 12 December 2006). However, AQIM has since been reportedly active, in particular in the Provinces of Boumerdés, Tizi- Ouzou, Bejaïa, Batna, Khenchela and in the regions of Aurés and Jijel (CRI, Au- gust 2007; BBC, 6 July 2007).

Since the conflict, the north of the coun- try, where most of the population lives and most of the violence took place, has remained contaminated by an unknown number of home-made explosives laid by insurgents and by some 15,000 anti- personnel mines laid by the army (ICBL, October 2007). Mined areas are generally well marked and fenced (although in some cases, marking and fencing have reportedly been removed or have deterio- rated), but the presence of unexploded ordnance has still obstructed the devel- opment of livelihoods and a sustainable economy in affected areas (email from UNDP Mine Action Programme in Alge- ria, 3 December 2007).

National and international response

Overall, both the national and the interna- tional responses have focused in the past few years on national reconciliation and on the development and regeneration of rural areas; no specific attention has been paid to those that were displaced by con- flict (Présidence de la République d’Algérie, 27 December 2006; EU Com- mission, 7 March 2007; UNDP, Septem- ber 2007). In 2001, the government, profiting from increased oil revenues, launched a comprehensive programme of investment focusing on housing, infra- structure, public services and agricultural production (ICARRD, March 2006; Gov- ernment of Algeria, July 2005). However, while the government has encouraged the return of IDPs, there is no targeted strat- egy to assist them, and no reports or as- sessments of the particular needs and rights of IDPs, which could have helped shape these programmes, are available.

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