Report: Millions of Egyptians in slums

Jan. 12, 2013 at 7:31 PM

CAIRO, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Millions of houses and apartments in Egypt are vacant while more than 16 million people live in slums, an advocacy group reports.

The Egyptian Center for Housing Rights said there are 6 million empty units in Cairo alone, Ahram Online reported Saturday. The group said most of the country's slums are also in the capital and its environs.

The group said 250,000 Egyptian households own three or more homes. But 18 percent of families live in a single room.

Khaled Ali, a labor lawyer and former presidential candidate, said government policy for the past 40 years has been biased towards the wealthy. He said inequality was reinforced in 1991 when the International Monetary Fund imposed "neoliberal" austerity on Egypt.

"The effects of neoliberalism were detrimental; the housing sector became dependent on house ownership rather than rental, which forced the low-income people out of the formal housing system into slums for lack of affordable housing alternatives," Ali said.

Amnesty International also has criticized Egypt's housing policies in a report, "We Are Not Dirt," about evictions in the slums.

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