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UN rights experts urge Kenya to stop
forced evictions of slum dwellers

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- UN human rights experts on Friday called on Kenya to stop forced mass evictions from Kibera informal settlement in southwest Nairobi and until adequate legal and procedural safeguards are in place.

Leilani Farha, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, said these evictions were started without adequate notice, and with no arrangements for resettlement and compensation in place.

“The destruction of houses, schools and a place of worship in one of the poorest communities of Kenya flies in the face of commitments made by the government to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals,” Farha said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The country’s Urban Road Authority last week started demolishing hundreds of structures in the area, to make way for a road that aims to ease traffic to and from the city center.

The authorities bulldozed hundreds of houses and destroyed at least five schools. The eviction operation which started in the early hours of July 23 is expected to leave more than 30,000 people homeless. It has already left about 2,000 children without schooling.

“Residents watched their homes and schools being bulldozed, and later searched for their belongings and school books in the rubble of destroyed buildings. Many had nowhere to go and were forced to spend their night in the open during the East African winter,” Farha added.

She said the evictions were carried out in spite of an earlier agreement - between the Kenya Urban Roads Authority, the National Land Commission and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights - that would have set in motion a resettlement and compensation process in compliance with human rights.

The demolitions have taken place to allow for the construction of a public road.

“Even if the project was justified for the public good, the human rights of all affected people should be respected,” noted Dante Pesce, the Chair of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Under international human rights standards, all those evicted, irrespective of whether they hold title to their property, should be entitled to compensation for the loss, salvage and transport of their properties, Farha stressed.

The demolitions have taken place to allow for the construction of a public road.

The UN experts urged the government to adopt laws requiring appropriate consultation, resettlement and compensation for development-based evictions in line with international human rights standards as recommended by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.


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