UN Special Rapporteurs urge government to halt evictions during Covid-19 crisis

United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteurs have urged the government to stop all evictions during the Covid-19 crisis a protect safety of activists working for the rights of the evictees.

The Special Rapporteurs on the right to housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, and on the situation of human rights defenders, Mary Lawlor said must protect the safety human rights defenders who are under threat for working for the rights of the evictees.

This comes barely a week after residents of Kariobangi and Ruai informal settlements were evicted and their houses flattened.
“Not only does destroying the homes of thousands of persons without any alternative accommodation constitute a grave violation of their right to housing but doing so in the current context of a pandemic violates multiple human rights norms and exacerbates its potential impact on the rights to health and life of thousands of Kenyans,” the experts said.

The Special Rapporteurs are also concerned that they continue to receive reports of new evictions conducted in the past few days, despite the Government’s announcement that it would establish a moratorium banning them during the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Kenyan authorities have the obligation to stop any further contemplated evictions, urgently provide assistance to the evictees, guarantee their rights to shelter, food, water, and sanitation,” the UN experts said. “They must also put in place a plan, with the full participation of the evictees, to find a long-term solution to their housing needs.”
The experts further cited a case of a rights defender, Ruth Mumbi threatened for advocating for the rights of the evictees. She is said to have gathered and published testimonies of the victims of the Kariobangi evictions and encouraging human rights organizations and journalists to document the impact of the dislodgment.
The UN alleges that an individual claiming to be a police officer called Mumbi and threatened to ‘disappear’ her if she did not stop advocating for the rights of the evictees.

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Close to 5,000 people were evicted from the informal settlement in Kariobagi while more than 1,500 people were evicted in Ruai a move that the government says is to allow the state repossess grabbed land meant for the expansion of Dandora Estate Waste Sewerage Plant which serves the larger Nairobi City.

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