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North Sinai: Creating a new Egypt in Sisi’s image

11 7 0

In the heart of Al-Arish, the capital of the North Sinai Governorate, Metito is building a desalination plant at the cost of $96 million.

The water group, which is headquartered in the UAE, says the plant will provide enough water for 750,000 people. But as construction rolls ahead, local residents are asking exactly who this drinking water is for.

North Sinai only has 400,000 residents. There used to be 500,000 but a fifth of them have been displaced – mainly from Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid – as the Egyptian government pursues a systematic policy to rid the area of locals.

Ninety per cent of farms have been razed in the area; villages have been destroyed and 3,000 houses crushed to the ground to create Egypt’s buffer zone with Gaza.

Residents have also been forced out south of Al-Arish where the airport is being expanded and are now bracing themselves for a third round after the Egyptian president issued an official decree to confiscate houses, residential buildings and land surrounding Al-Arish port.

Read: Security presence in Al-Arish worse than height of Operation Sinai

Much of this displacement took place under “Operation Sinai”, a purge on the impoverished northern peninsula launched in early 2018. Under the pretext it was fighting a war on terror, authorities searched residents’ houses, demolished them and sealed off several towns.

The military campaign wound down seven months later but the punitive measures have remained in place, in various degrees of intensity, since then.

Over the past three weeks a fresh security campaign has gathered pace. Security forces have bulldozed houses, prevented people mourning at funerals and installed security cameras on people’s houses, reports........

© Middle East Monitor