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Cop27: Sewage flows through summit centre in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh

After attendees struggle to find food and water, foul-smelling water waste becomes the latest logistical nightmare at the UN event
Waste water was seen flowing at one of the Cop27 climate summit centres in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh on 9 November 2022 (Twitter/screengrab)

A stream of foul-smelling sewage was seen flowing at one of the United Nations Cop27 climate summit centres in Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday evening. 

The leak appeared to have happened after a burst of sewage pipe near the conference’s Blue Zone, according to multiple reports. 

It was the latest logistical nightmare faced by attendees of the summit taking place in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from 6-18 November, amid tight restrictions on peaceful assembly and free speech.

Some delegates complained that basic necessities have been difficult to find with many forced to stand in long queues to grab a snack and others unable to find water, according to the Guardian

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Earlier in the week, attendees said wifi at the conference blocked access to a number of rights groups and news websites, particularly those critical of the Egyptian government.

The poor logistical planning coincides with reports of increased security and surveillance in Sharm el-Sheikh and across the country. 

Ahmed Attar, executive director of the Egyptian Network for Human Rights (ENHR), told Middle East Eye on Tuesday that up to 1,000 people have been arrested in recent weeks. 

The arrests targeted journalists, lawyers and mostly young people, he added. 

Intensifying surveillance and climbing detention figures come amid renewed calls on social media for protests on 11 November against the spiralling cost of living crisis.

Egypt’s hosting of the conference had been overshadowed by criticism of the government’s poor human rights record and calls to release Egyptian-British political prisoner Alaa Abd el-Fattah. 

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The hunger-striking activist was being administered with a “medical intervention” in a Cairo prison, his family said on Thursday.

Following a seven-month hunger strike during which he only consumed 100 calories per day, Abd el-Fattah stopped drinking water on Sunday to coincide with the opening of the summit in Sharm el-Sheikh.

With his plight hitting headlines again against the backdrop of Cop27, a number of senior figures have publicly called for his release during the conference.

UN rights chief Volker Turk on Tuesday said Abd el-Fattah needed to be released, warning his life was "in great danger".

"I urge the Egyptian government to immediately release Abd el-Fattah from prison and provide him with the necessary medical treatment," Turk said in a statement.

At least 60,000 political prisoners are estimated to have been jailed since Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically elected president, in 2013.

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