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31 December 2010
Conflict between insurgent groups and the government, which broke out in 1992 after the results of a general election were annulled, left between 500,000 and 1.5 million people internally displaced. In particular, large-scale massacres of civilians between 1996 and 1998 by the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) forced many Algerians to flee affected areas.
Since the conflict waned, there have been no surveys of the number of IDPs or assessments of their situation. Media sources including the El Watan newspaper suggested there were 500,000 IDPs in 2004, but since then estimates have not been forthcoming.
The government has consistently reported that internal displacement has ended. Its figures on urban growth rates show that the expansion of cities has slowed, but these reports do not take into account the many people living in slums around cities without legal residence. These informal settlements have grown significantly in Algiers, Blida, Médéa, Chlef, Tiaret, Sidi Bel Abbes, Relizane and Oran, and host many of those that were displaced. It is likely that a significant number of IDPs there had not achieved durable solutions by 2010.
Al Qa’eda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) extended its insurgent activities in 2010 from the north and the regions of Aurés and Jijel to southern areas on the Saharan borders with Mali, Niger, and Mauritania, but there have been no reports of resulting displacement.
The national state of emergency in place since 1992 caused protests from the opposition in 2010. Nonetheless, a steady overall improvement in security emboldened President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to begin a third term in 2009 after modifying the constitution to allow for re-election. Algeria was not among the countries that signed the Kampala Convention in 2010.
Although Algeria was affected by large-scale displacement caused by conflict between 1992 and 2002, internally displaced people (IDPs) were not a priority for the government during or after the conflict. As a result, even the most basic information about their number and situation has consistently been unavailable. The European Union estimated at the end of the conflict that violence had displaced one million people, while other sources put the number as high as 1.5 million. The government has not contested these figures.
Furthermore, there is no indication about whether these IDPs have achieved durable solutions. The government has stated that no-one remains displaced, but has not provided information about returns or living conditions in areas of origin. It is likely that most IDPs have remained in the cities they fled to, and mixed with other poor populations there, as access to livelihoods in rural areas has remained very limited. Lack of support, justice, and reparations for IDPs has been the norm. (...)
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29 September 2009