Author: Katy Migiro
Mon, 7 Oct 2013 11:12 AM
NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Up to 3,000 slum dwellers in Kenya’s capital Nairobi risk being forcibly evicted from their homes to make way for a road, mainly financed by European aid money, Amnesty International said on Monday.
A quarter of Deep Sea’s 12,000 population are threatened with eviction due to plans by the Kenya Urban Roads Authority to build a major road through the 50-year-old slum. The European Union (EU) is funding 65 percent of the $37 million project.
Amnesty urged the EU to ensure it does not support projects that cause or contribute to abuses, saying the threatened demolition of Deep Sea – which would destroy 3,000 homes, as well as shops, a nursery school, toilet blocks and two churches – highlighted a violation routinely carried out against the poor in Kenya.
“The law of the jungle has reigned supreme where people have been treated worse than wild animals, where people have been beaten savagely, where people have been exposed to all manner of violations,” said Justus Nyang’aya, director of Amnesty Interntional Kenya, speaking at the launch of the report ‘We are like rubbish in this country’.
“Amnesty International has been asking the government to follow the law.”
Kenya’s constitution guarantees the right to housing. The High Court has repeatedly interpreted this to prohibit forced evictions. It has also directed the government to develop a legal framework for evictions based on international guidelines.
But even so, evictions in the East African country are often carried out at night, without consultation, notice or compensation – in violation of international human rights laws. Violence and looting often accompany the demolition and burning of homes.
“These people have not committed a crime. The government needs to treat them with the dignity that they deserve,” Nyang’aya said.
EU and Kenyan government officials were not immediately available for comment.
Amnesty said in May, 2,000 people were forcibly evicted from Nairobi’s City Carton slum, near Wilson Airport, in two pre-dawn raids. Hundreds of privately-hired men, accompanied by up to 170 police officers, used hammers, crowbars and machetes to demolish hundreds of homes.
Those who resisted were beaten and police used tear gas and live ammunition to quell resistance. A seven-month-old baby was taken to hospital after inhaling tear gas.
Beatriz Wanjiru Ndungu said she was hit on the eye with a crowbar as she tried to stop the demolition men attacking a young man from the community.
“One of the youths took the lantern hanging in the house, opened it and poured the kerosene over our things,” she told Amnesty.
“He said because he did not want us to be there anymore. I tried persuading him not to burn our things but he did not listen. He set fire to other houses as well.”
Caroline Allen, a tailor, also lost all of her possessions, including her sewing machine. She now sleeps beside a dirt track with her children in a leaking makeshift shelter.
“It is difficult for me to even eat … I have no sewing machine anymore … how will I survive?” she said.
Nairobi is a city of extremes. It boasts 5,000 dollar millionaires, often living within sight of horrendous poverty. Some 60 percent of the city’s three million residents live in slums occupying five per cent of its area.
Slum land is usually owned by the government or private landlords.
- Thousands of Nairobi slum dwellers face eviction over new road, says Amnesty (irishtimes.com)
- Guest Post: “We are digitalising our campaign” (indigotrust.org.uk)
- Kenyan women sue for ownership of Nairobi slum | Mark Anderson (theguardian.com)