from AHMED MOOLA in Cairo, Egypt
CAIRO, (CAJ News) – THE home demolitions and forced evictions by the military in north-eastern Egypt could amount to war crimes.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) estimates that more than 100 000 residents- about a quarter of the total population- have been displaced during the armed conflict in North Sinai governorate between 2013 and 2020.
The army has allegedly demolished at least 12 350 buildings, mostly homes, during the protracted fight with the armed group, Wilayat Sina, a local Islamic State (ISIS) affiliate.
Approximately 6, 000 hectares of farmland has been destroyed.
HRW said thousands of these evictions and demolitions appear to violate the laws of war, which prohibit such actions except for absolute military necessity or to ensure the security of the civilians involved.
“The demolitions and evictions reflect an abusive official mentality that dismisses the well-being of Sinai residents, which is key to the region’s security and stability,” said Joe Stork, HRW deputy Middle East and North Africa director.
Egyptian military demolitions in Sinai began as the conflict intensified in late 2013 and escalated in October 2014.
The government of President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi issued a decree evicting residents from a 79-square-kilometre buffer zone that included the entire city of Rafah, where over 70 000 people were living.
Al-Sisi’s administration has pledged to resettle those displaced but the promises have, according to HRW, not been fulfilled.
– CAJ News