국제앰네스티는 이집트 북동쪽에 도로 확장 공사계획으로 인한 200개 가정의 강제 퇴거를 중단할 것을 이집트 당국에 요청했다.
지난 5월 4일, 포트 사이드(Port Said)의 제자라(Zerzara) 빈민촌의 주거지가 사전 통보 없이 강제 철거되면서 15개 가정이 집을 잃고 나머지 200개 가정이 같은 위기에 직면해있는 상태이다.
국제앰네스티 하시바 하지 사라위(Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui) 중동 및 북아프리카 프로그램 부국장은 “이러한 철거 계획들은 새 거주지마련 문제와 더불어 현 거주민들과 사전협의가 이루어져야 한다”고 밝히면서, “아무리 이집트 당국이 공동의 이익을 위해 공사를 진행한다 하여도, 이것이 가정들의 강제 퇴거를 정당화 시킬 수는 없다”며, “이미 퇴거당한 가정들에게는 알맞는 거주지를 제공할 것과 재산손실에 대한 충분한 배상을 할 것”을 요구했다.
제자라에는 현재 4~6천개 가정이 거주하고 있으나, 물과 위생 시설이 매우 부족한 상태이다. 전하는 바에 따르면, 제자라에 모여드는 쓰레기와 하수물로 인해 수인성 질병과 호흡기 질환이 만연하다고 한다.
하시바 하지 사라위 부국장사무관은 “이집트 당국의 행동은 소수 거주민들의 요구를 위해 수많은 가정들의 존엄성을 위협하고 있다”며, “당국은 이 같은 빈곤층에 알맞는 거주지를 우선적으로 제공해야 할 의무를 도외시 하고 있다”고 전했다.
Egyptian families at risk of forced evictions over road project
Amnesty International has called on the Egyptian authorities to halt the forced eviction of 200 families in the north-east of the country as part of a road widening project.
Without prior notice, bulldozers arrived to demolish the homes in Zerzara slums in Port Said on Tuesday, 4 May 2010, leaving fifteen families homeless and another 200 at risk.
“Residents must be consulted about these demolition plans and new homes found if necessary,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Amnesty International.
“Even if the authorities are genuinely building a road for the benefit of the community, nothing can justify the fact that families were thrown out of their houses without being given anywhere to go. Those families already evicted must be given adequate alternative housing and adequate compensation for the loss of their property.”
The eviction was accompanied by a heavy security presence and evictees were reportedly beaten.
The eviction orders were apparently issued by the Governor of Port Said who has the power to order the removal of “infringements” on land owned by the state,
The authorities say the roads are being widened to provide better access to blocks of modern six-storey buildings that surround the area.
However, many of these buildings, which were built to provide affordable housing, are too expensive for residents of Zerzara, and remain empty.
Left without alternative housing, the 15 families already forcibly evicted were offered the possibility of £500 EGP (US$ 89) compensation for the loss of their homes on the day of the eviction.
They were also told that they could rebuild their homes in Zerzara, but away from the new road. The Egyptian Centre for Housing Rights has filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor to stop the demolition process.
Most of the Zerzara slum was built by its residents, who had been evicted from run-down housing in Al-Salam and Nasser areas of Port Said in 2000.
An estimated four to six thousand families live in Zerzara with little or no access to clean water and sanitation. The accumulation of rubbish and sewerage water in Zerzara has reportedly led to the spread of water-borne and respiratory diseases. Residents complain of rats which they say attack their children at night.
“The authorities appear to be placing the comfort of some residents over the dignity of hundreds of families, ignoring their duty to give priority for adequate housing to the poorest sectors of the population,“ said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui.
Zerzara has been classified as an ‘unsafe area’ by the Informal Settlements Development Facility (ISDF).
Established by presidential decree in October 2008, the ISDF’s mandate is to develop plans to deal with informal settlements in Egypt.
In March 2009, Zerzara residents protested in front of Port Said Governorate after rain and sewage water flooded homes and a fire started by faulty wiring burnt down others.
At the time, the Port Said Governorate said it was building 9,000 flats for Port Said’s slums residents, 3,000 of which were to be allocated to families in Zerzara. So far this has not happened.
The acute shortage of affordable housing in Egypt means that millions of people have to live in informal settlements.
According to the Ministry of State for Local Development, in 2007, 12.2 million people lived in 870 informal settlements in Egypt. More than half of them are living in Greater Cairo.