Displaced flood victims still waiting for aid

Days after flash floods killed several people and forced hundreds of families out of their damaged homes in the Sinai Peninsula, government assistance is yet to arrive, survivors say.



“Our conditions are so desperate,” Nuweiga Gemeiaa, a local resident whose home was destroyed in the 18 January floods, told IRIN. “We sleep in the open, but the government hasn’t done anything effectual so far to give us either shelter or money to compensate [us] for what we’ve lost.”



Gemeiaa was one of hundreds of people who clashed with Egyptian police on 20 January after accusing the government of neglecting them in the aftermath of the floods.



The government has promised to give 25,000 Egyptian pounds (US$4,545) to each household badly affected by the floods in al-Arish in northern Sinai and in Ras Sidr in the south.



South Sinai Governor Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha said on 23 January that he had formed five committees to assess the flood damage. Speaking on Egyptian TV, Shousha said his staff would go from home to home to assess damage and give proper compensation for victims.



Officials from several NGOs met politicians in Cairo on 23 January to discuss how they could offer help to the Sinai floods victims. They promised to send aid convoys with food and money. They also agreed to open telephone hotlines to receive donations from the public.



So far, only minimal rescue work has been carried out by the Egyptian army and small amounts of aid from the vicinity have been delivered.



Until further assistance materializes, Gemeiaa and more than 350 families will have to wait in the open. They say conditions are so bad that some of them have broken into undamaged homes to take food and money.



“No money to buy food”



Gemeiaa and his wife and four children have been spending their nights in an olive farm a few hundred metres away from their damaged house.



“What happens here now amounts to starvation,” said Hussein Salem, a local resident. “Some shops started to open, but we’ve no money to buy food. Everything went away with the water.”



Starting on 18 January, three days of heavy rain in disparate locations in Egypt - south Sinai, Aswan in southern Egypt and the eastern coastal town of Hurghada - killed more than six people, injured hundreds and made thousands homeless.



President Hosni Mubarak met flood victims in Aswan and gave assurances they would be compensated, but Sinai residents complain they have been forgotten.



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