Please zoom in or out and select the base layer according to your preference to make the map ready for printing, then press the Print button above.

Warraq Island Evictions, Egypt


Description:

Al-Warraq island is located in the center of the Nile River and administratively falls under the Giza governorate. It is inhabited by around 90,000 residents who work in agriculture, fishing and various crafts. The islanders complain about poor sanitation sewage networks and contaminated drinking water [1]. Families of fishermen first made al-Warraq their home in 1952 after the island was abandoned by the government and later generations started farming the land. The residents of the island had to sustain themselves by building houses and manage their own informal services for daily needs [2]. The government later introduced some services and the island now has a hospital, police station, post office, water station and three public schools.

Al-Warraq has been witnessing a longstanding conflict between its inhabitants and the state. In 2000, former Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Ebeid had decided to turn the islands of al-Warraq and Dahab into public property, but the State Council settled the issue and confirmed the inhabitants’ right to their land in 2002 [1]. In addition, a 1988 decree that regulates construction on the Nile by prohibiting building within 30 meters on its banks and another one from 1998 declaring 144 Nile islands as natural reserves and limiting residence on them were also discussed but state never forbade building on the islands for decades and these decrees were never activated [3].

The conflict resurfaced when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called on the government to recover state-owned land from squatters in May, and he specifically tasked the army and police to do so. In a June 7 speech at a conference held on the elimination of illegal buildings on state lands on the Nile islands, specifically al-Warraq island, the president said, “People are illegally building houses on a Nile island of more than 1,250 acres of land — whose name I won’t mention. Slums are built there. No one is supposed to be on these islands. This must be treated as a priority. On June 15, 2017 Prime Minister Sherif Ismail decided to exempt 17 islands, including al-Warraq, from being subject to the 1998 decree and set a plan for their development bringing back fears of reviving the 2010 plan for the development of the Nile islands in the scope of the strategic development plan of the Greater Cairo region: Cairo vision 2050 with plans prepared by CUBE consultants (Egypt) and RSB (UAE and Singapore) soon emerging [1][4][5].

In the early hours of July 16, 2017, authorities attempted to evict some low-income residents from al-Warraq with the deputy governor of Giza Governorate confirming that the island has been slated for a tourism project as part of a wider plan to develop islands along the Nile [1][6]. Clashes erupted between police and residents of Warraq Island on Sunday, as the state attempted to demolish buildings on the island. Police forces fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered to contest the demolition, and, in the ensuing melee, one resident was killed and 19 injured, according to the Health Ministry, while the Ministry of Interior says that 31 of its officers were wounded [7]. The residents of the island woke up to see police and army forces implementing a government decision to remove what the state described as unlicensed buildings and illegal use of state-owned land. Most of the islanders were asleep when the forces first arrived to begin attempts to execute 700 building demolition orders. Residents quickly came together to defend their homes, and clashes broke out with policemen [1] and maintaining that their homes are legal, citing the government's supply of drinking water and electricity [8]. Following the death of a resident, security forces withdrew and the government announced the postponement of demolition orders until further notice. Police arrested 10 protesters, according to a statement on July 16 by the Interior Ministry and succeeded in demolishing 30 buildings out of the 700 [1].

 On August 8, 2017 a meeting was held between residents of al-Warraq and the head of the Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority who stated that there were no eviction plans and that the proposal was to develop the land without evicting them. The military’s Engineering Authority will take up responsibility for building new roads on the island, developing infrastructure and building new school but also implied there is a possibility that some land will be allocated for investment projects. Agricultural land will be preserved, and the Armed Forces will buy from those who want to sell, as well as compensate those who want to leave the island, with alternative housing units provided elsewhere. However, the detailed plan for the island was not presented to the residents during the meeting. Residents of Warraq island also submitted a list of demands, including the release of the detainees, who were arrested during clashes that erupted when security forces attempted to remove some buildings on the island in July. The residents also demanded that the family of Sayed Hassan al-Gizawy, who was killed during the clashes, be compensated. The residents say they have been residing on the island legally for more than 50 years, and if the state wants to reclaim their land, they must be provided with alternative accommodation on the island and compensated for any lost property [9].

A week later, Warraq residents cancelled plans for another protest, after the head of Giza security allowed the families of the detainees to visit them and overturned the suspension of the ferry that transports food and gas cylinders to the island [9].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Warraq Island Evictions, Egypt
Country:Egypt
State or province:Giza
Location of conflict:Warraq Island
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Tourism facilities (ski resorts, hotels, marinas)
Urban development conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Housing

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The development plans for the Islands are unclear.

Project area:526
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:90,000 - 100,000
Start of the conflict:16/07/2017
Company names or state enterprises:Cube Consultants (CUBE) from Egypt - Prepared the strategic urban development plan of the greater Cairo region: Cairo vision 2050.
Raglan Squire & Partners (RSP) from Singapore - Development Plans of the Island
Relevant government actors:Armed Forces’ Engineering Authority
Egyptian National Police
The General Organization for Physical Planning (GOPP) - http://gopp.gov.eg

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Informal workers
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Squatters
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches

Impacts

Environmental ImpactsVisible: Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Deaths, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsDifficult Access to Healthcare
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession

Outcome

Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Repression
Violent targeting of activists
Project temporarily suspended
Development of alternatives:Residents of Warraq island also submitted a list of demands, including the release of the detainees, who were arrested during clashes that erupted when security forces attempted to remove some buildings on the island in July. The residents also demanded that the family of Sayed Hassan al-Gizawy, who was killed during the clashes, be compensated. The residents say they have been residing on the island legally for more than 50 years, and if the state wants to reclaim their land, they must be provided with alternative accommodation on the island and compensated for any lost property.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:While the demolition was stopped, it is unclear what the next steps of the Egyptian government will be. For now, the residents of Al-Warraq were able to stay in their homes but since the plans for the island were not made public, it is hard to know what might happen in the future.

Sources & Materials

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[3] - Battle over the Nile
https://www.madamasr.com/en/2017/07/16/feature/politics/battle-over-the-nile/

[4] - Two companies are developing plans for the island of Al-Warraq .. And «housing» denies (Arabic)
http://www.almasryalyoum.com/news/details/1163846

[7] - Photos and video: Warraq residents clash with security forces over demolition
https://www.madamasr.com/en/2017/07/16/feature/politics/photos-and-video-clashes-between-warraq-island-residents-and-security-forces-in-protest-of-land-reclamation-campaign/

[1] - Following deadly clashes, Nile island residents keep up fight against evictions
http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/07/egypt-al-warraq-island-eviction-state-owned-lands.html#ixzz4wWhypcfm

[5] - Horus Island Project by CUBE Consultants
https://cubeconsultants.org/home/project/horus-island/

[6] - Deputy Governor reveals the establishment of a huge tourist project in Al-Warraq (Arabic)
http://www.almalnews.com/Story/340350/15/نائب-المحافظ-يكشف-حقيقة-إنشاء-مشروع-سياحى-ضخم-بالوراق

[8] - Egypt evicts low-income island squatters in Cairo to make way for Gulf-funded megaproject
https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2017/7/18/egypt-evicts-low-income-island-squatters-for-gulf-funded-megaproject

[9] - Sissi attempts to reassure Warraq island residents
https://www.madamasr.com/en/2017/08/09/news/u/sisi-attempts-to-reassure-warraq-island-residents/

[2] - Smothering Cairo’s Lungs: A Story of Al-Warraq Island
http://c28.31c.myftpupload.com/sustainability/20170815/smothering-cairo-lungs-al-warraq-island/

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

A video documenting the aftermath of Sunday’s clashes - Mada Masr
https://www.facebook.com/mada.masr.english/videos/260105741156957/

Clashes with Police after death of an activist - Al-Araby
https://youtu.be/Bf_-aEz36Os

Meta information

Contributor:Christophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update03/11/2017

Images

 

A house demolished by security forces in Warraq.

Photo by Ibrahim Ezzat.

Security forces fire tear gas to disperse Warraq residents.

Photo by Ibrahim Ezzat.

Residents of Warraq island facing security forces.

Photo by Momen Samir.

Security forces follow a protest by Warraq residents carrying the body of the man killed during Sunday clashes to the hospital.

Photo by Ibrahim Ezzat.

Security forces arrive to demolish buildings in Warraq island.

Photo by Ibrahim Ezzat.