One billion slum dwellers cannot be ignored

Governments cannot celebrate the UN World Habitat Day on 4 October while ignoring one billion people living in slums, Amnesty International said today.

“A couple of weeks ago in New York, governments promised to help 100 million living in slums. The problem is that more than a billion people live in slums. They don’t have water, schools, sanitation, or health care,” said Widney Brown, Senior Director of International Law and Policy at Amnesty International.

Mass forced evictions of people living in slums are being carried out around the world, with Roma communities evicted across Europe, slum dwellers in Delhi forcibly evicted to make way for the Commonwealth games and more than 200,000 people facing eviction in Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

The recent Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Summit failed to call on governments to stop forced evictions, despite evidence that such evictions drive people further into poverty and undermine all the MDGs. It instead asked governments to ‘reduce slum populations’, raising fears that this could encourage more forced evictions.

“From France to Zimbabwe to Cambodia, we have documented how governments are destroying homes of some of the poorest people in their countries. Those whose homes are destroyed are failed by the law, they get no compensation and have no place to live,” said Widney Brown.

“It is time for World leaders to move beyond the rhetoric we heard in New York and take urgent action to protect the rights of people living in slums.”

Note to editors

Amnesty International experts with regional and country expertise, or with specialist knowledge in housing rights and forced evictions, are available for comment ahead of World Habitat Day.

To arrange an interview or find out more, please call the press office on +44 207413 5566 or email [email protected] .

Amnesty International is focusing on the MDGs and slums within its Demand Dignity campaign, which aims to end the human rights violations that drive and deepen global poverty. The organization is calling on all governments to end forced evictions, ensure equal access to public services for people living in slums and their active participation in decisions affecting their lives. The campaign mobilises people all over the world to demand that governments, corporations and others who have power listen to the voices of those living in poverty and recognise and protect their rights. For more information visit http://www.amnesty.org/en/demand-dignity