Thousands of Nairobi slum dwellers face eviction over new road, says Amnesty
Human rights group calls on Kenyan government to end mass evictions
“We are like rubbish in this country” is an Amnesty International investigation into forced evictions in Nairobi, which is home to an estimated 3.1 million inhabitants, half of whom live in slums or informal settlements. Photograph: Antony Njuguna/Reuters
Thousands of Nairobi slum dwellers are threatened with eviction from their homes and businesses in the Kenyan capital to facilitate a new European Union-funded road, Amnesty International has claimed in a new report.
Released today to mark World Habitat Day, We are like rubbish in this country is an investigation into forced eviction in the city, which is home to an estimated 3.1 million inhabitants, half of whom live in slums or informal settlements.
The report’s researchers use recent developments around the Nairobi Informal settlements Deep Sea and City Carton to highlight how, despite constitutional protection, slum dwellers live in constant fear of losing their homes.
Kenya’s constitution specifically recognises the right to adequate housing, so the scale and frequency of forced evictions has led to an urgent need for legislation that explicitly prohibits forced evictions, says Amnesty.
The Kenyan government is also obligated under a range of national and international human rights laws – it’s a signatory to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which guarantees the right to housing – to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate shelter.
At Deep Sea in Westlands up to 3,000 people face eviction in the coming months as the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (Kura) plans to construct a major road through the settlement with EU money.
Deep Sea residents first learned of the road in 2009, and Kura subsequently assured them they would be consulted and kept informed about construction and possibilities for resettlement, says Amnesty. However, there has been little meaningful engagement.
“As a result, although Deep Sea residents have been informed about the impending eviction they have no information on when the road construction will start; nor do they have information on whether, and if so what, resettlement options may be offered to them,” the report’s authors says.
To highlight the issue, researchers detail how in May in City Carton, near Wilson airport, the homes of 400 families were demolished by hundreds of men armed with hammers, crowbars and machetes. These men were accompanied by 170 police officers who used tear gas and live ammunition during the demolition.
No legal basis
Amnesty found that the demolition of the City Carton homes had no legal basis, and that the police failed in their duty to stop the eviction or protect the residents. It has called on the Kenyan government to put an immediate end to mass evictions until the necessary legal safeguards are put in place to protect slum dwellers’ rights.
“Many are at risk of forced evictions which not only often make people homeless, but also involve violence and cut families off from basic services such as water, education, healthcare and sanitation. Forced evictions devastate lives and need to be outlawed,” Amnesty International Ireland executive director Colm O’Gorman said.