Economic growth and attendant commercial urban development continue to contribute a lot to the problem of forced evictions, the UN-HABITAT Deputy Executive Director Ms. Inga Björk-Klevby said on Monday.
Speaking at a meeting of the Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE), Ms. Björk-Klevby said that the consequence was that the agency had an important role to play in advising governments against forced evictions.
“While many governments are signatories to international covenants related to housing rights, the widespread practice of forced eviction, often in the wake of economic growth and attendant commercial urban development, shows that UN-HABITAT has an important role to play in assisting the governments of its member states in avoiding forced evictions through the development of alternative solutions,” she said.
The Group was established by UN-HABITAT in 2004 in response to unlawful evictions of squatters, low-income renters, indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups with inadequate or no legal security of tenure. The Group reports to the Executive Director of UN-HABITAT and its mandate is to monitor forced evictions and to identify and promote alternatives such as in situ upgrading and negotiated resettlement.
Members of the Advisory Group are individuals from civil society organisations, local authorities, central government and professionals in developing and developed countries. The Group is supported by a network of representatives from organisations in the fields of human settlement development, law, tenure policy and human rights.
Speaking during the same function, Mr. Yves Cabannes, the AGFE Convenor between 2004-2007 said the scourge of forced evictions continued to afflict many people in the world and the sad reality was that in some cases it was not only slum dwellers who bore the brunt but alsoe relatively well off individuals.
“Last year saw some five million people affected by forced evictions and projections show that the figures are likely to shoot to between 40 to 70 million in the next 20 years,” he said.
The two day meeting at UN-HABITAT headquarters will advise on ways of tackling the problem with a pool of experts, a new plan of action and a funding strategy.