You live in one of the poorest countries on earth, rehabilitation with one of the worst quality-of-life indexes in the world, order among the top five worst inflation rates on earth, cost at the bottom of the global list of a per capita GDP.
Living in Ghana could be easier. But for the country’s urban poor, it’s about to get even worse.
The Ghanaian government has imminent plans to evict thousands of destitute city dwellers from the Agbogbloshie area around the railways lines in the country’s capital Accra.
Known as the “Railway Dwellers,” the families living in makeshift homes within 50 feet of the train lines were given until mid-December to vacate the area or face homelessness.
The government decided to forcibly move the “Railway Dwellers” after signing a $6 billion contract with a Chinese company to completely overhaul the country’s railways last month.
While that might sound just dandy, the problem is that local authorities have not given the “Railway Dwellers” any alternative housing. On the contrary, municipal officials simply rolled into the informal railway settlement with megaphones a couple weeks ago ordering residents to get out within two weeks – not the most sensitive of national development strategies.
As the “Railway Dwellers” organize against the forced evictions, Amnesty International has taken the lead in urging the Ghanaian authorities to abide by international law, which clearly forbids such forced evictions, even if those living on the land have no legal rights to it.
“The Ghanaian authorities must not evict people and leave them homeless and destitute,” Tawanda Hondora, Africa Program Deputy Director at Amnesty International said in a statement. “The government of Ghana has not provided alternative accommodation for the railway dwellers, and nothing suggests that they have plans to do so after completing the evictions.”
“The Ghanaian government cannot act in total disregard of their international human rights obligations,” Hondora continued. “The authorities must not take measures that deepen poverty, or that make vulnerable people – the young, frail, the elderly – homeless and exposed to worse human rights violations. The authorities must not evict the railway dwellers until there are plans in place to provide them with alternative accommodation, or with compensation.”
Kicking out destitute urban dwellers with absolutely no plan to resettle is certainly not the most brilliant development strategy, and Amnesty International should be applauded for calling out the Ghanaian government over the issue. Indeed, Amnesty framed the call to save Ghana’s “Railway Dwellers” in the context of their global Demand Dignity campaign, which aims to end the human rights violations that deepen global poverty.
Please sign the petition below, which will go directly to Accra municipal leaders with the power to reverse the forced evictions.
Amnesty International is also in the middle of a holiday pledge drive (video below). Their work around Ghana’s “Railway Dwellers” is just a small sample of the dozens of amazing actions Amnesty International takes the lead on each month, far more than we at Change.org have the capacity to cover. If you’re still looking to give before the end of 2010, you can support Amnesty’s amazing and extensive work in the human rights arena by clicking here.
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