from ADANE BIKILA in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
ADDIS ABABA, (CAJ News) – AT least 1 000 people have been left homeless after authorities in the Ethiopian capital city, Addis Ababa, demolished dozens of homes belonging to day labourers.
The demolitions have been carried out over three weeks in a crackdown that authorities said is aimed at controlling the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Human rights groups reported that after the early April demolitions of their permanent homes, affected families attempted to rebuild temporary shelters made from canvas and tarpaulin.
Police pulled down these structures too and confiscated the material during a follow-up operation.
The destruction has continued despite the onset of heavy rains.
“Stranded families have told us harrowing stories of how their children are sleeping out in the open, exposed to the drenching rain and cold,” Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa, stated.
Muchena said authorities must ensure that no one was put in a position of increased vulnerability to COVID-19 including by rendering them homeless.
“Having a home is critical to protecting oneself from COVID-19, stopping its spread and recovering from it.”
According to the authorities, the demolitions, which started mid-February, are targeting illegal structures in the area.
Victims, however, argue they had built their homes on land they bought from farmers in 2007.
Muchena said the demolitions were inhumane when people must contend with COVID-19, joblessness and heavy downpours.
“The authorities are making a bad situation worse by inflicting homelessness on people who do not even know where their next meal will come from.”
– CAJ News