30 Dec 2010
At least 53 people have been injured and 29 others arrested during protests over inadequate housing in a suburb of the Algerian capital.
Clashes broke out on Wednesday as residents filled the streets of the Algiers neighbourhood of Les Palmiers to protest, Algerie Presse Service, the state-owned news agency reported, citing a spokesman for the Algiers municipality.
The injured included 52 members of the security forces and one civilian, the agency reported.
The protests first erupted a week ago, when authorities announced plans to relocate some of the Les Palmiers residents living in older homes to new houses.
The “new” housing project had been initiated in 1984, and those protesting wanted to be included on the list of beneficiaries.
Atlasinfo, a news website, reported that the protests spread to other suburbs of Algiers, with protesters taking to the streets against the lack of housing in Ennakhil, Laaquiba, Diar el Babor and Cervantès.
People living in these areas burnt tires and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police, who responded with tear gas and arrests.
Chronic housing shortages are a serious issue in the capital, with many young people forced to stay with their parents well into adulthood.
The Algerian protests come as the government in neighbouring Tunisia faces a rare outburst of mass frustration from its own youth.
Protests by unemployed youth pushed President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali to name a new youth minister on Wednesday, in a partial reshuffling of his government after rare violent demonstrations by jobless youths.
The state news agency, TAP, said Ben Ali had told the government to work with the private sector to put in place an emergency programme to create jobs and provide “means of subsistence” for youths who have been out of work for long periods.