Algeria

Shops burn in Algerian riots

Reuters/Farouk Batiche

Youths attacked a police station and burned shops in Algiers on Thursday, in a second day of protests against rising costs and unemployment. Demonstrators are also protesting against a lack of social housing and allegations of corruption.

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“There’s been a simmering tension already caused by unemployment, caused by high prices,” says Gita Subrahmanyam, Algeria specialist at the London School of Economics.

“But it’s also to do with housing, and the riots are supposedly the result of the authorities closing down and destroying some illegal housing settlements.”

More than a million houses in the country were destroyed in an earthquake in 2003 and they have not yet been replaced, despite a government promise.

Gita Subrahmanyam, LSE

“In Algiers and in some of the other cities like Oran where there were riots, there’s a real, serious problem of lack of housing and overcrowding,” says Subrahmanyam.

Algeria has a strong hydrocarbon industry, but that is only adding to the frustration among protesters, she adds.

“There’s a real frustration that this wealth is being kept by government rather than being distributed across the population.”

Another problem the country faces is that it has not been able to diversify its industry. This is partly to do with a lack of available skills and partly because the country’s history of violence is putting off foreign investors.

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