Forced evictions render 5,000 Kenyan slum dwellers homeless amidst Covid-19

Rights groups secured a court injunction stopping the demolition the following day, but authorities proceeded with the forced evictions regardless, Ruth Mumbi, a human rights activist said.

Thousands of Kenyans have been highly exposed to COVID 19 after authorities demolished their houses in the midst of the pandemic.

According to human rights activists, Ruth Mumbi on Wednesday, authorities ordered bulldozers into the Kariobangi informal settlement in northeast Nairobi on Monday, demolishing some 600 homes and forcefully evicting at least 5,000 people – including many single mothers and children.

“We are in a serious crisis because of the COVID-19 pandemic so evicting people from their homes and their only place of safety at this moment is wrong,” Mumbi told Reuters.

She further explained that the state-run Nairobi City Water and Sewerage Company (NSWSC) claims ownership of the land which it says has been illegally occupied since 2008. Evicted residents say they bought the land from the city council and have documents to prove it.

“The government is talking about ‘flattening the curve’ and ‘slowing the spread’ of the virus, but at the same time it is compromising the lives of 5,000 people. God forbid, if there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in this locality, no one will be safe.”

Residents were given verbal notice of the demolition on Saturday, said Mumbi.

Rights groups secured a court injunction stopping the demolition the following day, but authorities proceeded with the forced evictions regardless, she added.

Also, John Githongo, a renowned Kenyan Journalist took to social media to lament, saying “that the demolition of the homes of over 5,000 residents of Kariobangi North Ward in Embakasi North can take place in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic lockdown demonstrates an official callousness and disregard for the lives and basic dignity of Kenyans that is staggering.”

Kenya’s interior ministry, water ministry and NSWSC did not immediately respond to calls or emails requesting comment.


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