Collapse fears provoke fresh evictions in Cairo's Moqattam

Amira El-Sharkawy, Tuesday 8 Apr 2014

Ninety-eight families evicted from their homes in Dweika district of Moqattam over fears of rock collapse

Residents of Al-Dweika searching for survivors among the rubble, 2008 (Photo: Reuters)

Nineteen homes were demolished on Al-Razaz street in Dweika on Monday due to fears of a fresh rock collapse, leading to the eviction of 98 families, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported.

Some were provided with homes nearby, while others were transported over 60km away to 6 October City. 

The demolition order was based on a report by a governorate-appointed engineering committee, which affirmed “the danger of the situation” and the need for the immediate fortification of a giant boulder, which could collapse onto the houses below.

Cairo governor Galal Said said the houses were demolished because they were hindering work on fortifying the boulder.

In the summer of 2008, eight huge boulders fell on Dweika in Moqattam, a slum area in eastern Cairo, killing 100 people.

Suzan Mubarak, the wife of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, was blamed by many for the tragedy.

Lawyers for five state employees, who stood trial for the collapse, said their clients were made scapegoats for the First Lady's mistakes.

They accused her of ordering the building of housing units in Dweika with inadequate sanitation facilities, forcing residents to dispose of their sewage on Moqattam mountain, which loosened the surrounding rocks.

Monday's evictions angered some families, who accused the governorate of “manipulating them” by sending them to districts that are far away from their jobs and lacking basic facilities such as water, electricity and transportation.

“Why doesn’t the government just let the poor be,” complained Hussein Hamdy, whose house was demolished on Monday.

“All the governorate has been doing since the 2008 collapse is merely propaganda. It claims to be trying to help the residents but it is just evicting us in different phases,” said local resident Ibrahim Mahmoud. “Most of the time they are unjust evictions.”

Residents who resist the eviction orders are dealt with by the security forces, Mahmoud added.

According to Gad Asaad, another resident, the alternative houses offered by the governorate -- which it claims are better than their original ones -- are inadequate.

In addition to lacking basic facilities, the governorate does not allow the evictees to own their new homes, Asaad added.

Under the recently passed constitution, the state is responsible for ensuring citizens have “adequate, safe and healthy housing in a manner which preserves human dignity and achieve social justice.”

Article 63 also criminalises any form of “arbitrary forced displacement of citizens.”

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