First Published: 2009-11-17

Egypt urged to act to avoid repeat rockslide disaster

Amnesty International: government neglect could cause death of thousands of Egypt’s poor.


Middle East Online

'Egypt’s poor are trapped by poverty'

CAIRO - Egypt must take immediate action to ensure there is no repeat of a 2008 rockslide that killed more than 100 residents of a Cairo shantytown, Amnesty International warned in a report on Tuesday.

"Thousands of Egypt’s poor are trapped by poverty and neglect that could ultimately end in their deaths," said Malcolm Smart, the global rights group's Middle East and Africa director.

"The government must urgently address the risks faced by those living in areas designated as ‘unsafe’ and find solutions by consulting with those directly affected."

A cliff face collapsed on dozens of homes in Cairo's Manshiyet Nasser slum on September 6, 2008, killing at least around 100 residents and injuring dozens of others.

At the time, residents blamed the disaster on work that had been going on for several weeks on the Moqattam plateau overlooking the shantytown, and said the authorities had been warned of the dangers of just such a disaster.

In its report, Amnesty called on Egyptian authorities to "alleviate the threats to lives in the 26 'unsafe areas' in Greater Cairo, and to protect the residents’ rights to health and adequate housing."

"Denied an effective voice and largely ignored by those in power, many residents ... continue to live in fear on precarious hillsides or under high voltage power lines because they have nowhere else to go," it said.

Amnesty called on the authorities to properly investigate the incident and ensure such a tragedy is not repeated.

"The government must develop a comprehensive programme of action to address the risks faced by those living in ‘unsafe areas’ and to uphold their rights to life, health and adequate housing," said Smart.


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