Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Global Coalition Announces Campaign to Stop Forced Evictions and Privatization of Housing and Land.

News Advisory
Mon, October 2 2006

Global Coalition Announces Campaign to Stop Forced Evictions and Privatization of Housing and Land.

Decrying a sharp increase in massive forced evictions caused by mega-development schemes and property speculation across the planet, the Habitat International Coalition (HIC) will announce a global campaign to "Stop Forced Evictions and Privatization of Housing and Land” in Montevideo and in London on October 2, with worldwide actions scheduled throughout October.
"Despite global standards affirming a Right to Housing, governments, multinational corporations and investors have too often ignored them,” stated Enrique Ortiz, HIC President. “Homelessness, speculation and massive forced evictions for 'slum clearance' are on the rise, from Harare (Zimbabwe) to New Orleans, from Mombai and Manila to Lima and Vancouver"s Downtown Eastside. Massive dam projects are displacing hundred of thousand in rural areas of Turkey, China, India and Mexico. As a result, far from meeting the UN's Millenium Development Goal of reducing slum dwellings by 100 million by 2020, the number of slum dwellers is expected to double to more than two billion families by 2030. We call on government and UN bodies to implement a rights-based, people-centered housing agenda as an alternative to the market-driven models promoted by the US government, global business interests and financial institutions.”

The London press conference will focus attention on the privatization of social housing and utilities, highlighting efforts by tenant organizations to halt the introduction of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) in Germany and the United Kingdom. “In Europe, America, and Asia, private equity funds and investment trusts are accelerating the massive conversion of rental housing to speculative ownership beyond the reach of poor and working people, contributing to displacement, rent increases and the destruction of social investment in habitat,” stated Ana Sugranyes, HIC General Secretary, who will participate in the London event. “Unregulated market-oriented policies are the principal cause, not the solution, of global poverty and the destruction of habitat.”

In Montevideo HIC will focus on people centered alternatives to be discussed with the Latin American housing and urban development national authorities, looking for increasing public funds, reviewing mortgage conditions and defending collective land ownership.

Throughout October, numerous local, national and regional organizations, social movements, NGO"s and academic groups in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America will carry out public actions and events within the framework of the HIC campaign. Highlights will be posted later in this week at www.hic-net.org/ . The Coalition will also release a Global Eviction Watch Map to visually document the forced eviction crisis. HIC will release the list and Map to coincide with World Habitat Day on October 2, designated by the United Nations General Assembly for the first Monday of October each year.

Ortiz also released a statement in commenting on the official UN Habitat Day theme of “Cities, Magnets of Hope.” Ortiz notes that the displacement of the rural poor to urban areas forced by market forces and institutions is not a “massive flow moved by hope, but rather a desperate struggle to stay alive.”

HIC is the principal worldwide network of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO’s) engaged with the United Nations’ Conference on Human Settlements, known as Habitat I and II. Founded by housing rights activists in 1976, HIC coordinated NGO participation in the Habitat II Conference in Istanbul in 1996, and organized fora and a rally at the World Urban Forum in Vancouver in June 2006. The Coalition today comprises more than 300 national, local and regional housing and land rights organizations in most of the countries of the globe.

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