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Tema UA: Nigeria, Authorities to Evict Hundreds of Thousands in Port Harcourt

Dear President Pratibha Patil: We are profoundly disturbed by news we received from the Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN), part of Habitat International Coalition (HIC), a global coalition of member organizations in over 100 countries, and their local counterparts in India, the South Asia Regional Programme (HLRN-SARP), about the atrocities being committed by the Indian Government against homeless persons amidst severe winter conditions in New Delhi. We have learned that the bitter winter cold, icy winds and falling night temperatures in Delhi make it very difficult for the homeless to sleep out in the streets. Already ten deaths resulting from the extreme weather conditions have been reported in the city between 31 December 2009 and 12 January 2010. Despite the fact that homeless people are freezing to death, there is no sense of emergency or resolution being perceived by the government. Rather than accounting for extreme conditions and providing adequate shelter for the homeless, the Government of India has been demolishing shelters and evicting the homeless from their places of residence. On 22 December 2009, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) demolished a temporary night shelter for the homeless at Pusa Roundabout (Rachna Golchakar), Delhi. It is estimated that 250 persons were rendered shelterless and made to suffer out in the freezing cold. We have also learned that a 35 year old balloon seller, Bhima, succumbed to the cold and died on 31 December 2009. The shelter had been set up by the Department of Revenue, Government of National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi, but MCD officials claim it was illegal and the people taking shelter were encroachers. Alarmingly, MCD officials have stated that the land on which the shelter was located had to be “beautified” and grass had to be grown there in preparation for the upcoming Commonwealth Games. The prioritization of beautification schemes by city officials over their responsibility to ensure the rights of the homeless is not only distressing, but, also reflects the glaring problem of a lack of coordination between government agencies in Delhi. Despite the High Court interim order on 7 January 2010 ordering the MCD to immediately restore the Pusa Roundabout night shelter and not evict homeless persons in the winter on ”humanitarian grounds,” an adequate shelter to accommodate all the homeless people has still not been reinstated as of 13 January 2010. The MCD has only established a small tent accommodating only 40-50 people, without basic amenities. Most of the homeless are still out in the cold on the street, awaiting shelter. In another glaring violation of the High Court Order and with complete disregard for the rights of the homeless, the Northern Railway, Delhi Police and MCD officials violently evicted over 400 people from Pul Mithai, Naya Bazaar, Delhi, on the morning of 9 January 2010. Women and children were beaten with batons (lathis), and the possessions of the people were burnt and destroyed. A complaint was filed by the victims in the local police station but the police have still not registered a First Information Report. Reportedly, 60 of the evicted families belong to the Scheduled Castes). Many of them are apparently construction workers employed for the Commonwealth Games. The displaced remain out in the freezing cold with their salvaged belongings, with nowhere to go. The latest reports indicate that they are facing threat of being evicted from the neighbourhood as well. On 13 January 2010, in the third hearing of the suo moto case, the Delhi High Court admonished the MCD for its failure to protect the rights of the homless, in particular its inability to reinstate the temporary night shelter at Pusa Roundabout. It ordered the MCD to immediately provide an adequate shelter at the same place, which would accommodate all 250 people who were residing in the original shelter. It also called for a moratorium on further evicti

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