New Suez Canal and Displacement, Egypt

The Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and his government embarked on a national project, led by the military, to expand the Suez canal through a new 45-mile bypass that allows two-way ship transport in a section of the canal (1; 2; 3). It was mostly funded by Egyptian citizens, who purchased $8 billion worth of government bonds (3). The project proceeded in August 2014, with no environmental impact assessment. During 2014, at least 1,500 homes have been destroyed along with farmers' land, displacing at least 2,000 residents with no apparent compensation or prior warning (1; 2; 4; 5). Amidst government and media propaganda hailing the potential economic benefits of the "new" Suez canal, portrayed as a national pride, tittle attention has been paid to such evictions which took place in in two villages in the governorate of Ismailia (Abtal and Qantara Sharq) located to the east of the canal (2). Farmers saw their mango trees ripped out and their lands and houses demolished (2; 4). Residents still wait for a court ruling regarding their case. There was no apparent mobilised opposition, particularly with the new government's anti-protest law and the firm grip of the army on the Suez Canal and Sinai regions amidst fears of terrorism. The area has been inhabited for three decades, and residents have been paying the government utility bills. According to the residents' lawyer, it should be legally recognised as their home. However, the military evicted villagers on the basis that they have no right to be living on land which had always belonged to the army, disregarding their destroyed livelihoods (4; 5).
See more...
Basic Data
NameNew Suez Canal and Displacement, Egypt
SiteSuez Canal area
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Water Management
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Level of Investment (in USD)9,000,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Potential Affected Populationat least 2,000 to 2,500
Company Names or State EnterprisesSuez Canal Authority (SCA) from Egypt - Main moderator supervising and executing the project, along with the army
Numerous local companies in dry-digging phase
Relevant government actorsEgyptian Armed Forces
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups MobilizingFarmers
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage)
Potential: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMigration/displacement
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The project has been completed with disregard for the displaced and loss of their livelihoods, with little national and international media attention. No evidence suggests that compensations took place.
Sources and Materials

(1) CS Monitor : Suez Canal 2.0: Egyptians pour savings into president's ambitious project (+video)
[click to view]

(2) Mada Masr: Over 2,000 residents forced from homes, denied work on Suez Canal project
[click to view]

(3) International Business Times: Sisi’s New Suez Canal: Egypt’s Great Development Project Might Not Develop Anything
[click to view]

(4) Middle East Eye: 'New Suez Canal' construction displaces over 2,000 people in Egypt
[click to view]

(5) The Guardian: Thousands of Egyptians evicted without compensation for Suez project
[click to view]

(6) Mada Masr: What Sisi didn't say about labor conditions in constructing the New Suez Canal
[click to view]

(7) Reuters: Egypt signs with six international firms to dredge new Suez Canal
[click to view]

(9) Daily News Egypt: Completion of new Suez Canal dry digging in early April
[click to view]

(8) Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: Suez Canal development in Egypt - reports of worker injuries and deaths
[click to view]

Media Links

BBC: Egypt Launches Suez Canal expansion
[click to view]

Other Documents

Map of project area source:
[click to view]

[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorEJAtlas affiliated researcher
Last update05/10/2015