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Thousands of Egyptians live among graves in 'City of the Dead'

Khalil Hamra / AP

A boy plays next to tombs in a room where his family lives in a necropolis called the City of the Dead, in Cairo, Egypt. May 21.

The City of the Dead is a four-mile-long necropolis where thousands of Egyptians are forced to live and work alongside graves due to the scarcity of housing in the capital.

As Egyptians took part in the country's first free presidential election, residents of one of Cairo's poorest quarters expressed hope that a new leader would help them with a simple request — finding a new home.

Thousands of Cairo's poor live in the City of the Dead, a centuries-old necropolis replete with tombs and mausoleums that spreads out in a vast patchwork at the foot of the Mokattam Hills.

The conditions are cramped among the tombs. Children play with toys alongside gravestones that double as makeshift tables and shelves. Residents have sealed over graves to make kitchen or bedroom floors. Laundry hangs from clotheslines stretched between two tombstones.

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Khalil Hamra / AP

Part of a necropolis called the City of the Dead is seen where thousands of Egyptian families live, in Cairo, Egypt.

Khalil Hamra / AP

Egyptian Zaki Saad, 80, left, and his two daughters sit next to the door of a grave, which is also where they live, in a necropolis called the City of the Dead.

Khalil Hamra / AP

Egyptian Zaki Saad, 80, passes by his room.

Khalil Hamra / AP

Egyptian Zaki Saad, 80, stands in a grave where he and his family live, May 19.

Khalil Hamra / AP

An elderly Egyptian woman sits next to a graveyard where she lives.

Khalil Hamra / AP

An Egyptian woman sits on a couch in the graveyard where she lives, May 19.