- Title: ALGERIA: Slum residents protest housing, infrastructure
- Date: 21st October 2009
- Summary: MEROUCHE SHOWING BATHROOM AND TOILET VARIOUS OF CLASHES BETWEEN INHABITANTS OF DIAR ECHAMS AND POLICE FORCES
- Embargoed: 5th November 2009 12:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Topics: Economic News
- Reuters ID: LVA667ZN7Q7M8L63B9SXF9E830I8
- Story Text: Protesters threw stones and petrol bombs at police in Algeria's capital on Tuesday (October 20) in a second day of clashes over housing conditions.
300 riot police were confronted with dozens of young men at the edge of the Algiers shantytown.
Algeria -- an oil and gas producer which suffers from high unemployment and a housing shortage -- has seen periodic outbreaks of rioting, but rarely in the heavily-policed capital.
A security source at the scene of the clashes -- only about 100 metres from Algeria's Communications Ministry -- said several police had been injured.
Roads were blocked off and the ground was littered with stones and other debris.
The clashes broke out on Monday (October 19) when some residents of the shantytown, in the Diar Echams district of Algiers, protested that they had not been included on a list of people who qualified for re-housing.
Forty-five year old Merouche Adel built his own house alongside one of the state-owned apartment blocks in Diar Echams, having given up on waiting for help.
"I've lived here for six years. Every time the authorities asked us to prepare reports so they could improve our situation, we did that. But nothing was done. I was the first person who built here, I had even gone to the courts with the authorities... But thank God, I have shelter now. I've asked to move because I am tired. My children are growing up and one room is not enough. When it is raining, the water seeps into the kitchen. I do not have any solution; the authorities must help us to find a solution. We are asking for our rights," Merouche told Reuters.
His make-shift home consists of a kitchen and one room, which he shares with his wife Saliha, and their three children.
For several years, Merouche was under impression that he'd be able to afford a better home away from this shantytown so that his children could have a better future.
"I do not think that my children and I can have a promising future by living here," said Saliha.
Despite frequent contact with the local authorities, Merouche and his family are some of the hundreds here who have not been included on the new list for re-housing, and they are breaking under the frustration.
"Several times, they came and asked us to prepare files -- we gave it to them six or seven times. They came and they saw how many people live here, but after being hopeful, we've lost our faith because nothing was done. What can we do?" asked Saliha.
The demonstrators say they will not stop their protests until they get their chance at new homes.
Talks broke down between authorities and slum residents on Tuesday, and more violence is expected over the next few days.
Algeria, an OPEC member and the world's fourth biggest exporter of natural gas, is also the scene of a conflict between the government and Islamist insurgents affiliated to al-Qaeda.
The conflict has subsided in the past few years, and some analysts now say social unrest has replaced the insurgency as the biggest threat to stability.
Many people in the former French colony of 35 million say they are frustrated at the lack of jobs and housing.
The government has already spent billions of dollars in oil and gas revenues on projects to improve living standards and this year announced it would spend a further 150 billion U.S. dollars on modernising the economy and creating jobs.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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