535.6 acres in North Sinai allocated to New Rafah

CAIRO: A total of 535.6 acres have been allocated in North Sinai to New Rafah city, “properly compensating” owners of houses and farms in the allotted area, according to a Thursday Cabinet decree.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi ordered the construction of the new city in November 2014 for residents who were evicted from their homes in a one-kilometer wide buffer zone along the borders with Gaza.

Evicted inhabitants of the borders were compensated with 575 million EGP ($74 million) by April, according to North Sinai Governor Abdel Fatah Harhour. Sisi said in a November speech that the state allocated 1 billion EGP in compensation for those affected by displacement.

More than 30 soldiers were killed in a militant attack in October 2014, after which Sisi ordered the establishment of the buffer zone, which is now being flooded with water to curb smuggling through tunnels.

The mass eviction stirred criticism among human rights organizations and activist

Human Rights Watch “determined that the large-scale destruction of at least 3,255 buildings in Rafah to counter the threat of smuggling tunnels was likely disproportionate and did not meet Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law or the laws of war,” the watchdog said in a September report.

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