Egypt authorities urged to prevent forced evictions in city slums

Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty has warned in a letter to the Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif that plans to redevelop Greater Cairo’s poorest areas risk leaving thousands in inadequate housing or homeless.Residents of 33 “shack areas” in the capital and the city of Giza are scheduled to be relocated to 35,700 housing units in 6 October City, south west of Giza, and 15 May City, south of Cairo, by the year 2015 as part of the 2050 Greater Cairo plan.  However, locals have complained about the alternative housing being offered and human rights organisations fear the Egyptian authorities could resort to forced evictions to carry out the relocation.“Guarantees against forced eviction have not been provided to these residents, nor have they been consulted about resettlement,” said Salil Shetty in a letter to Prime Minister Nazif. “The Egyptian government has a duty to explore all feasible alternatives to forcible eviction in order to minimize human suffering, deprivation and loss.” The letter was jointly signed by the Egyptian Center for Housing Rights and the Habitat International Coalition – Housing and Land Rights Network.The human rights groups fear the evictions will follow the same pattern as others in the informal settlement of Manshiyet Nasser and elsewhere in Cairo, which were conducted without consultation with residents about the conditions for their  resettlement. “Many families from Manshiyet Nasser have found themselves homeless following the demolition of their homes; some have not been relocated into new homes until months later,” said Salil Shetty. “Women have also faced discrimination in the allocation of flats; those without a spouse often are not considered to represent a separate household from their parents.” Amnesty International has urged that, if an eviction plan is agreed, residents should be informed of their date of eviction, conditions of relocation and have the right to challenge these decisions in court. “The repeated denial of residents’ right to participate in their resettlement leads to greater despair among those being relocated. The authorities must ensure they are fully involved in the development of their future” said Salil Shetty.According to the Cairo authorities, in June 2010 some 14,800 families lived in Manshiyet Nasser, many in “unsafe” areas in ramshackle buildings prone to rockslides, such as the Al-Duwayqa rockslide of 2008 that killed at least 119 people.