In July 2015 rivaling communities clashed in the town of Ghardaia, 600 km (373 miles) from the capital of Algiers. More than 20 people were killed and more than 300 people were injured before police and security forces were able to disperse the crowds. Houses and vehicles were vandalized and set on fire. The clashes resulted from ethnic tensions between Berber Mozabites and Chaamba Arabs, which has caused a long-running conflict between the two communities.
Violence between Berbers and Arabs in Ghardaia dates back to 1975, with reoccurring clashes throughout the 1980’s and 90’s. The unrest between the communities are economic and social in nature, since the region suffers from high unemployment especially among the youth population. There are also numerous land, property and housing disputes following uncertainty and obscurity after several government reforms in the area. Both communities claim to have experienced unfavorable treatment and discrimination in relation to each other.
Following a brief peace agreement between the groups in 2008, renewed violence erupted in 2013 after a football riot. Despite numerous efforts by the government to reach a peaceful co-existence, violence continued to escalate until the deadly clashes in 2015. After July 2015 military troops were deployed to enforce strict curfews, disperse crowds and stop any signs of civil unrest.
Advice for travelers:
- We advise against all non-essential travel to the region of Ghardaia and neighboring towns of Guerrara and Berianne at this time.
- Remain aware for signs of increased tensions in your vicinity. Avoid all protests and large public gatherings due to potential for escalation.
- Monitor local media outlets and this security service for more updates.