CAIRO: Hours before the release of a Human Rights Watch report on Egyptian military practices in the Sinai, the newly formed Cabinet defended its military operations, stating that increased activity was necessary to protect borders areas the Rafah,in Sheikh Zuweid, and Arish, and denied violating principles of human rights.
“Egypt’s government has adopted a comprehensive plan to combat terrorism in this area, while complying with recognized international human rights laws and standards to guarantee the protection of the lives and property of citizens and to limit their suffering from adverse living conditions,” the Cabinet stated.
In an 84-page report released Wednesday, HRW condemned alleged human rights violations committed by Egypt’s security forces against 3,200 families, which were displaced through home demolitions in Sinai over last two years. It said that thousands of buildings and farmlands have been razed to ground.
The organization slammed President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s government for creating a Sinai-Gaza buffer zone, saying that such a campaign violates human rights.
“The Egyptian authorities provided residents with little or no warning of the evictions, no temporary housing, mostly inadequate compensation for their destroyed homes – none at all for their farmland – and no effective way to challenge their eviction, home demolition, or compensation,” stated HRW, that interviewed 11 evicted families.
“Destroying homes, neighborhoods, and livelihoods is a textbook example of how to lose a counterinsurgency campaign,” Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director of HRW stated.
The government has retorted that it has provided compensation for all displaced families; “The majority of residents expressed their preference to receive material compensation for their buildings and land, while others asked for alternative homes and land in the new cities. Under the decrees of the Governor of North Sinai no. 212 and 29 for the year 2014, committees were established to dispense compensation and look into grievances and complaints,” the statement continued, noting that a new Rafah city has been constructed for the evicted people.
Following an October 2014 attack against military personnel in Arish that killed 31 persons and 31 others injured, President Sisi’s government establishes a Sinai-Gaza buffer zone and a state of emergency was declared by the National Defense Council, as well as a curfew in areas of North Sinai.
Demolition of buildings in the 1 kilometer-wide zone was divided into two phases; each of them is 500 meters, Youm7 previously reported.