Tens of thousands of people have been made homeless after being forcibly evicted from their homes in N’Djamena, the capital of Chad, since February 2008. Houses and other structures have been demolished in several neighbourhoods, and the demolitions continue, with more people at risk of being forcibly evicted.
The first wave of demolitions followed an armed attack on N’Djamena in February 2008 by a coalition of opposition armed groups. On 22 February 2008, President Idriss Déby Itno issued a decree authorizing the destruction of illegally constructed buildings and structures in two neighbourhoods of N’Djamena: Gardole and Walia Angosso. The demolition programme was later extended into other areas such as Farcha, Atrone and Chagoua.
Most of the forced evictions have been carried out by the security forces. In some cases they reportedly used violence. Flouting the law and denying due process, the authorities did not consult residents before evicting them. In many cases residents were given little or no notice. Rarely did they have the opportunity to challenge the evictions through the courts.
The vast majority of families who have lost their homes have not received alternative housing or any other form of compensation. Some went to live with family members or relatives, others returned to their villages of origin. Many remained in their neighbourhoods, often living in the ruins of their old homes.
Twenty-five years after the UN established World Habitat Day, hundreds of millions of people across all continents have no alternative but to live in inadequate housing and living conditions in slums or informal settlements, and this number is growing – 1.4 billion by 2020.
Amnesty International has been working with partners to stop the human rights violations experienced by people living in slums and informal settlements, in all regions of the world. The campaign has focused in particular on stopping forced evictions, ensuring equal access to public services, such as water, sanitation, education and health, for people living in slums and ensuring the active participation of communities in decisions and processes that impact their human rights. Amnesty International has launched a series of actions in the last year on Cambodia, Chad, Egypt, Italy, Kenya, Romania, Serbia, Zimbabwe, amongst other countries.
On this World Habitat Day join us; Remind governments that they cannot claim to address poverty or create better cities if they ignore the billion people living in slums and their human rights.
Better Cities, Better Life? Take action to make it more than a slogan.