Counting the post-revolution costs

Construction workers wait to be hired in Cairo
(Amr Emam/IRIN)

Many people in Egypt have been directly or indirectly affected by 17 days of street protests which ended on 11 February with the toppling of President Hosni Mubarak.

Up to 365 civilians and 32 police were killed and 5,500 civilians and 1,000 police injured, according to government data.

"We urge the authorities to investigate the extent and incidents of violence including as a result of excessive use of force by security officials, officials who ordered the use of live ammunition, and acts of violence between the pro- and anti-government protesters," said a 17 February statement by experts including UN Rapporteur on Summary or Arbitrary Executions Christof Heyns; UN Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression Frank La Rue; and Chair-Rapporteur of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention El Hadji Malick Sow.

Among the dead, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), were 13 children.

"All reported deaths and injuries, particularly of children, as well as reports of children being paid to participate in counter-demonstrations and… being detained should be thoroughly investigated, and children's rights fully protected," said UNICEF Representative Philippe Duamelle.

The agency has since launched a psycho-social programme to help affected children. "Children need help to come to terms with the violence and feeling of insecurity they have seen or experienced," Duamelle said.

Out of work

Many casual workers have been left high and dry, especially in the construction and tourism sectors.

“How can I feed my family without work? In the past, work used to come and go, but now it never comes,” said Rifaat Abdullah, a 43-year-old father of four and construction worker.

According to the state-run Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the construction sector was hardest hit: Some 90 percent of workers were left without work during and immediately after the protests as construction ground to a halt.

Abdullah, who used to come to the square in the crowded residential district of Faisal in Giza, and usually get hired for the day by a contractor, has found it impossible to get work now. “I am tired of waiting,” Abdullah told IRIN. “I thought of doing another job, but recession seems to be hitting everything in this country.”

Kareem Mohamed, a 24-year-old father of one who used to hire out his horse to tourists at the Giza pyramids, a major attraction, said the site was deserted.

“I depend on the flow of tourists to this area to feed my family,” Mohamed said. “But I have not seen tourists for about a month now.”

According to former Egyptian Vice-President Omar Suleiman, 1.1 million tourists left Egypt in the first nine days of the uprising. But the 17 February CAPMAS report said around 210,000 left during the last week of January. “Tourist expenditure declined US$178 million during this week,” it noted.

Some hotels have been forced to send employees on unpaid leave.

Health care

Health services have also been affected: security problems, lack of transport, and a nationwide night-time curfew made it difficult for thousands of patients to reach hospital, staff told IRIN - and there were shortages of medicines, too.

“All types of transport almost stopped,” said Mohamed Abdeen, chairman of Aswan Cancer Hospital. "This made us unable to get very critical cancer medicines.”

Despite all the current hardships, however, some experts are hopeful of a new beginning for the most vulnerable.

Masood Ahmed, director of the International Monetary Fund’s Middle East and Central Asia Department, in a recent interview with the IMF Survey magazine said there should be a focus on more inclusive growth strategies and better-targeted help for poorer households in Egypt.

According to Rashad Abdou, an economics professor at Cairo University, the expansion of community-based micro projects could be one way to better support vulnerable groups in the economy. “These projects hinge on the ability of the government to make it easy for the poor to get bank loans for their projects,” he added.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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