July 25, 2014
In the United States, safety of quarry workers is one of the top concerns. Unfortunately the same cannot be said in other parts of the world. For months, photographer Mohamed Ali Eddin has spent time documenting the dangerous conditions of illegal operations in the mountains of Al-Minya in Upper Egypt.
Ali Eddin reveals the awful work environment where more than 20,000 unregistered workers risk their life and limbs to mine the mountain. Some of the workers are as young as 9 years old.
Unsafe equipment and improper training commonly results in workers losing a limb in the first week of work. Even non-life threatening injuries sometimes turn into a big deal because the nearest hospital capable of dealing with such injuries is two-hours away.
Almost all injured workers instantly lose their jobs and receive no compensation.
“A sixteen year old kid lost his arm,” Ali Eddin said. “His bothers now work to support the family.”
There are several risks these illegal workers face on a day-to-day basis. Poorly insulated wires have reportedly electrocuted and already killed at least 200 people.
A lot of workers end up suffering from silicosis and lung fibrosis from the exposure to silica dust in the quarries. The average age of the laborers is between 12 and 35. By the time they reach their thirties, they begin to develop serious lung complications.
Ali Eddin’s project is part of UNDP’s campaign to raise awareness about dangerous working conditions in Egypt. This project was recently selected as a finalist for the Manuel-Rivera Ortiz Foundation’s award for documentary photography.