World Urban Forum: Leaders urged to end forced evictions

Ending forced evictions and respecting the right to housing should be high on the agenda for authorities from more than 100 countries who are about to gather in the Italian city of Naples for the Sixth World Urban Forum, Amnesty International said today.

Discussions on “The Urban Future” during the week-long conference from 1-7 September must include plans to address the problems faced by millions of people who live in inadequate conditions in slums and informal settlements in cities worldwide, the organization said.

“Millions of people continue to live in inadequate housing, lacking access to clean water, sanitation and other essential services in slums and informal settlements around the world. They also remain at risk of forced evictions where they could be illegally thrown out, losing in the process their possessions, connections with families, access to work, education and health services,” said Malavika Vartak, Amnesty International’s Policy Coordinator on Housing.

“These grave violations of the right to adequate housing taking place in both rich and poor cities are causing a crisis that governments must address for a truly secure urban future.”

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN Habitat) set up the World Urban Forum in 2002 to discuss the impact of rapid urbanization on communities, cities, economies, climate change and policies.

Amnesty International delegates will be at the forum in Naples over the next week to raise awareness about the injustice of forced evictions and about the obligations of national and local authorities to uphold the right to adequate housing.

“It is hypocritical that the forum takes place in Italy, a country that has distinguished itself for years through the forced eviction and segregation of Roma,” added Matteo de Bellis, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Italy.

“The Italian government, which has invested significant resources to host the forum, has in stark contrast failed to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing of Romani children, women and men.”

Kenyan slum resident Jeremiah Makori will be part of Amnesty International’s delegation at the forum.

Hailing from Deep Sea slum in the suburbs of Kenya’s capital Nairobi, Makori is currently facing eviction to make way for a road network funded by the European Union. If the eviction is carried out without all the necessary legal safeguards in place, it would be a forced eviction and could leave his family – and 12,000 of his neighbours – homeless and destitute.

“We are hard-working people, and we live in the slum because there is nothing else affordable. We have been there for generations, but the government ignores our rights. Being thrown out on the street in order to build a road is not leading to ‘development’, it is leading to destitution. But if the government worked with us it would lead to better results for the whole city,” said Makori.

During the World Urban Forum, Amnesty International will lead several events calling for an end to forced evictions.

These include a public action at the entrance to the event in Naples, a press conference to launch Know Your Obligations – a guide to forced evictions – and a site visit to Rome’s Tor De’Cenci camp where Kenyan journalists will meet a Roma community facing forced eviction. 

The slideshow requires JavaScript and the Flash Player. Get Flash here. //