Annual Report: Egypt 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Egypt 2011

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Right to adequate housing - forced evictions

The trial of officials in relation to the fatal 2008 rockslide at Al-Duwayqa, an informal settlement in Cairo, concluded in September. Cairo's deputy governor was acquitted but six other officials were convicted of negligence and sentenced to one-year prison terms. At least 119 people were killed and more than 50 injured by the rockslide.

Residents of many other areas officially designated as "unsafe" in informal settlements continued to live in grossly inadequate conditions and were at risk from fire, flooding and other threats.

  • In January, flash floods killed at least six people and displaced thousands of residents from their homes in the Sinai Peninsula and in Aswan, including in "unsafe areas". The authorities' response in providing shelter and support to those affected was inadequate and slow.
  • In August, a fire burned down some 50 shack homes in Zerzara informal settlement in Port Said, leaving residents homeless. The authorities failed to provide shelter or alternative housing.

Up to 12,000 families in the large informal settlement of Manshiyet Nasser in east Cairo were still living amid unstable rocks and cliffs because they could not afford homes elsewhere. The Cairo Governorate allocated more that 5,000 alternative housing units to Manshiyet Nasser residents, but most were located far from their sources of livelihood and affordable services. Those evicted on safety grounds were not consulted about proposed conditions of resettlement nor formally notified of their eviction even if the areas in which they lived had been designated as "unsafe" months earlier. Many did not know whether they would be rehoused. Forced evictions were also carried out in Establ Antar and Ezbet Khayrallah informal settlements in Old Cairo. Many families were made homeless as a result of forced evictions.

The authorities continued to devise and began implementing development plans for some of the 404 officially designated "unsafe areas" throughout Egypt, home to an estimated 850,000 people, without adequately consulting the affected residents. Official plans to clear 33 "shack areas" in Greater Cairo by 2015 include Ezbet Abu Qarn, Ramlet Bulaq and parts of Ezbet Khayrallah and Ezbet Al-Haggana. The residents would be relocated, possibly unwillingly, to housing in two distant locations, 6 October City, south-west of Giza, and 15 May City, south of Cairo.

Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers

Border security forces continued to use lethal force against foreign migrants who attempted to leave Egypt and cross the border into Israel; at least 30 were reported to have been shot dead. No official investigations were carried out into the circumstances in which lethal force was used. Others seeking to cross the border illegally were arrested and detained.

  • In July, an administrative court annulled a deportation order issued by the Interior Minister against Mohamed Adam Abdallah Yahya and Ishaq Fadlallah Ahmed Dafaallah, two asylum-seekers from Darfur who were facing forcible return to Sudan where they would be at risk of serious human rights abuses.

Death penalty

At least 185 death sentences were imposed and at least four prisoners were executed.

  • Jihan Mohammed Ali and Atef Rohyum Abd El Al Rohyum were hanged on successive days in March; they had been convicted of murdering Jihan Mohammed Ali's husband. She was reported to have said in prison that she alone was responsible for her husband's death; he was executed despite his request for a retrial. Their families were not notified in advance of the executions.

In December, Egypt was one of a minority of states that voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.