|What is affected||
|Type of violation||
|Date||06 September 2008|
|Region||MENA [ Middle East/North Africa ]|
|Location||Duwayqa, East Cairo|
Officials Guilty of Manslaughter.pdf
|- Number of homes||97|
|- Total value €|
Duty holder(s) /responsible party(ies)
A deadly rockslide at the informal Dawayqa district, in eastern Cairo, was another unnatural occurrence caused by conditions created by urbanization.[i] The seepage of sewage and other drainage from the planned settlement atop the Muqattam Hill above Duwayqa resulted in a rockslide from the cliff overhanging the informal settlement. The crumbling boulders fell directly on the neighborhood known as `Izbat Bakhit (meaning “lucky manor”). The rocks crushed at least 97 homes and other structures, with each household having 4–5 members. The official figure of fatalities remained at 119, but the true number of actual victims may never be known.
Duwayqa and `Izbat Bakhit are both located in Manshiyet Nasser, one of Egypt’s largest informal settlements, hosting around a million people. Residents are mainly Cairo’s urban poor and internal migrants from the southern governorates. Most work in the informal sector as artisans, street vendors, construction workers or rubbish collectors, or as daily wage laborers.
The residents of Manshiyet Nasser are squatting on state-owned land in desert and not designated for urban settlement. The government also built official shelters and popular housing there. The residents of Manshiyat Nasser are squatting on state-owned land in desert zones not designated for urban settlement. They have been building there and, despite decrees for the Cairo Governorate to install utilities there, residents have introducing water, sewerage and electricity in informal ways since the 1960s. The government also built official shelters and popular housing there.
Cracks in the rock face overlooking Duwayqa could be seen as the consequence of the urbanization above became known, According to some survivors, a few days before the rockslide, local authorities threatened residents in `Izbet Bakhit to move out or face eviction. But they did not offer alternative housing or even temporary shelters. So, in effect, they had nowhere to go. In the end, no one was evicted. Nor was any attempt made to evacuate the area, even though the nearby and newly constructed Suzanne Mubarak Housing was available (except for some final touches to the flats).[ii]
In September 2008, Egypt’s Public Prosecutor opened investigations into allegations of negligence and the failure of the authorities to act in time to prevent deaths. Soon after, the contractor hired by the local authorities to secure the hill was arrested by the police and investigated. He was subsequently released without charge.
Senior officials from the Cairo Governorate and Manshiyat Nasser Neighbourhood Authority were subject to investigation. It was reported that they might face a charge of involuntary homicide. The injured also gave their testimonies while in hospital. In May 2010, eight defendants, including a vice-governor of the Egyptian capital, were sentenced to jail terms, but freed on bail, awaiting appeal.[iii] The appeals court eventually acquitted the defendants.
Surviving Duwayqa families have since been subject to a series of displacements carried out by Cairo Governorate authorities. Those displaced families are mostly living in poor quality housing at Pyramid City, some 30 km west of the city, away from their sources of livelihood. Others who refused to stay at Pyramid City have been further displaced to al-Fayoum in Upper Egypt.
[i] “Duwayqa Rockslide,” VDB, 6 September 2008, http://www.hlrn.org/violation.php?id=o2lsaA==.
[ii] Amnesty International, Buried Alive: Trapped by poverty and neglect in o’s informal settlements (November 2009) http://www.hlrn.org/img/violation/Duwayqa_Buried_alive.pdf.
[iii] Amnesty International, “City officials convicted over deadly Cairo rockslide,” press release, 28 May 2010.
Surviving families have since been subject to a series of displacements carried out by Cairo Governorate authorities. Those displaced families are mostly living in poor quality housing at Pyramid City, some 30 km west of the city, away from their sources of livelihood. Others who refused to stay at Pyramid City have been further displaced to al-Fayoum in Upper Egypt--HLRN.