|05DJIBOUTI1182||2005-12-01 13:03:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Djibouti|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
1. (C) Summary: An operation to remove illegal squatter
houses began on November 22, 2005 in the area known as Arhiba
II in the capital city Djibouti. On November 30, the last
scheduled day of operations, police fired on angry
inhabitants who were throwing stones at authorities. Four
persons are reported dead and between eight and twelve
injured. The Ministry of Interior reported fifteen policemen
were injured during the confrontation. This operation is part
of a wider process conducted by the Ministry of Interior
during the past few months to fight crime, insalubrity and
illegal housing in the capital. Opposition and the Djiboutian
League of Human Rights condemned the killing of innocent
citizens and warned the government that this action will
indirectly undermine the already threatened civil peace.
2. (C) In the past several months, a marked rise in crime has
been a subject of great concern in Djibouti City. The rise
has been attributed to illegal immigrants. In response, the
government decided to undertake a large-scale operation to
remove and destroy illegal houses, where illegal aliens
usually live. The removal undertaken in Arhiba II beginning
November 22 was part of this operation. Arhiba is an
overcrowded and unsanitary quarter inhabited mainly by Afars.
Arhiba II is comprised of mainly Afar port workers.
Djiboutian citizens and illegal workers live side by side in
3. (C) During the initial days of the operation, authorities
relocated the citizens in Hayabley (Balbala zone) to open
areas near PK 20. Individuals removed from Hayabley were told
to rebuild their houses with their own resources. The
operation continued without incident for six days. The last
wave of persons to be removed refused to be relocated unless
given construction materials or given the permission to
extract the wood from their houses to rebuild since they said
they could not afford to buy new materials.
4. (C) Following the order by public works personnel that
evicted persons should take nothing except their personal
items, those affected began insulting and throwing stones at
the public works agents and the five policemen present at the
time. Arhiba II inhabitants gathered and became very
agitated. Policemen and Gendarmerie responded with tear gas.
Four persons were reported killed and between eight and
twelve injured. Fifteen policemen were reportedly injured,
eight of which sustained serious wounds.
5. (C) On December 1st, the Minister of Interior issued a
press release reproduced in the local newspaper, La Nation,
stating "while agents of the public works service were
supposed to continue the relocation operations begun on
November 22nd, they were threatened by hostile young people.
Police intervened to protect the civil servants. A crowd out
of control began throwing stones and other projectiles at the
civil servants. Police had to use force in order to establish
order. As a result, fifteen policemen were injured, eight of
them seriously; nine citizens were lightly injured. Two
police vehicles were damaged; a third vehicle had a bullet
impact. An investigation has been ordered to determine the
circumstances of these troubles" (end of press release).
6. (C) Opposition and the Djiboutian League of Human Rights
have condemned the "dramatic and muscled operations." The
Union for Democratic Alternance (UAD, opposition coalition)
reported "shooting with real bullets occurred toward
civilians while they were peacefully rejecting the
destruction of their personal belongings." UAD reported four
dead , twenty injured as well as disappeared civilians. The
Djiboutian League of Human Rights (LDDH) called the operation
a "massacre." The President of UAD requested that foreign
militaries present in Djibouti not support this new massacre
against poor civilians with their silence. LDDH is wary of
the political implications of this action against the Afar
7. (C) Comment: The government may be pursuing a double goal
with this operation. On the one hand it targets crime and
unease that is a major concern in this area of the capital,
but it also may be hunting hidden members of the Afar
rebellion that are believed to be using Arhiba as a staging
base before deploying to the northern regions. The government
has been particularly concerned about increasing Afar unrest
since two of its armed forces members were killed in an
ambush two weeks ago allegedly set by the armed rebellion 60
km north of Tadjourah. "The armed-FRUD of Kaddamy" claimed
responsibility. Mohamed Kaddamy was the spokesman in Europe
of Armed-FRUD (Ahmed Dini's movement) during the civil war.
After the late Ahmed Dini signed the peace accord , Kaddamy
refused the terms of the accord and decided to pursue the
struggle against the Djiboutian government. The killing of
the two soldiers in the north remains the only action
undertaken by this faction since the signing of the Peace
Accord in 2001.
8. (C) Comment continued: A few days ago, the Director of
President Guelleh's cabinet, Ismail Tani, confirmed to the
Embassy the ambush that occurred on or around November 20th
resulting in the death of two soldiers. He added the
government was angry about the ambush, and that is was trying
to gather proof to bring opposition leaders to justice, as
the government was "sure" that the backers of this action
were the opposition leaders in Djibouti despite the claim of
responsibility by Kaddamy in Paris. End Comment.